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UPDATE 2-Exelixis liver cancer drug meets late-stage goal, shares jump

(Adds analyst comment; updates shares)

Oct 16 (Reuters) - Exelixis Inc said on Monday its drug to treat patients with a type of liver cancer met the main goal in a late stage study, pushing it closer to an expanded label approval by U.S. regulators and sending its shares up about 20 percent.

The drug, cabozantinib, is currently used in treating kidney cancer and is sold under the brand name Cabometyx.

In the latest study, the drug showed statistically significant improvement in overall survival in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma patients who had been previously treated with Bayer AG and Amgen's sorafenib, compared with a placebo, the company said.

The drugmaker also said an independent data monitoring committee has asked the company to stop further trials of the drug to test its effectiveness following review of the second planned interim analysis.

"We believe second-line hepatocellular carcinoma is a $1 billion global opportunity ($350 million in the United States)," Andy Hsieh from Wiliam Blair wrote in a note. "With this clinical hurdle removed, we view the company as one of the prime takeout targets."

The company, which has a market value of about $7.30 billion, plans to file for an expanded label with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the first quarter of 2018.

Hepatocellular carcinoma liver cancer is the third-leading cause of death worldwide, making up about three-fourths of the nearly 41,000 cases that will be diagnosed in 2017 in the United States, the company said.

The drugmaker's shares were trading at $29.45 before the bell on Monday. They have risen 86.2 percent since the beginning of the year. (Reporting by Akankshita Mukhopadhyay in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)