Biotech stocks were riding a wave of positive news today, as research breakthroughs from a couple of individual companies sent the sector higher. The Nasdaq Biotech Index rode the swell to a 3.2% gain, while the Dow Jones U.S. Biotech Index climbed 2.6%. Myriad Genetics ( MYGN - Get Report) said this morning that it discovered the human gene responsible for high total cholesterol and high density lipoprotein levels in people who have suffered heart attacks at an early age. The news sent Myriad's stock higher by 9.9% to $77.45. Human Genome Sciences ( HGSI) also made an announcement this morning that turned into a positive for the stock. The company said it received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to test the growth hormone Albutropin in a new investigational application. The company's stock tested prices above $74 before slipping back to $73.22, still up 4.6% on the day. Strong sales of Idec Pharmaceuticals' ( IDPH) cancer-fighting drug Rituxan led Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's biotech analyst Caroline Copithorne to raise her forecast for the company yesterday. Banc of America's Eric Ende also recently raised his estimates on the company. Idec, which has gained 21.8% in the last week, rose 5.6% to $72.87 today. Additionally, Thomas Weisel Partners analyst Scott Greenstone raised his rating on Affymetrix ( AFFX) to strong buy from buy, saying that the "visibility of the company's growth has never been better." Affymetrix gained 9.3% to $49.20, but remains well below its 52-week high of $103.75. Several other stocks within the sector also gained ground. Genome Therapeutics ( GENE) rose 10.9% to $16.29. Abgenix ( ABGX) rose 8% to $44.05, while Millennium Pharmaceuticals ( MLNM) posted a gain of 5% to $42.80. Amgen ( AMGN - Get Report) hovered around the flatline, climbing 0.1% to $69.95.
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