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Shares of Halozyme spike 17% after positive results for pancreatic cancer drug

Shares of Halozyme Therapeutics soared more than 17 percent on Thursday after the company reported very strong phase 2 results for its pancreatic cancer drug.

Halozyme CEO Helen Torley confirmed that patients who take the drug, PEGPH20, were able to improve time of cancer progression, see a statistically significant change and reduce the rate of blood clots.

"Pancreas cancer is one of the most devastating cancers that still today if you have advanced cancer, the probability of survival at 5 years is less than 5 percent," Torley told "Mad Money's" Jim Cramer.





Microscipic view of pancreatic cancer cells.
Stocktrek Images | Getty Images
Microscipic view of pancreatic cancer cells.

Halozyme is a biotechnology company that is focused on using human enzymes to alter the extracellular matrix. This is an area outside of the body's cells that serves many functions, including providing support for various tissues. Its technology helps deliver drugs more efficiently and destroy some types of cancer cells.

What excited Torley most was data for patients who have high levels of a sugar called hyaluronan around their tumor. Halozyme found that when PEGPH20 was added to the current standard of care, there was a 91 percent improvement in progression-free survival, and 50 percent in overall survival.

However, while shares did rally on Thursday, they fell from the initial $4 gain in premarket trading due to chatter that some of the results were not as strong as they seemed. Torley confirmed that there was not a benefit for the overall population, and there were a number of reasons for that, including stage 1 of the study where there was a temporary clinical hold that may have impacted it.

"The important message is that this data is certainly supportive of the confirmatory phase 3 study that we have already underway," Torley said. "And that's really what a stage 2 is to do. It's to help you identify: Is your design right? Do you have your powering right? Do you have—in the case of our drug—the biomarker cut point right?"


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