Synta Pharma jumps on lung cancer drug data

NEW YORK -- Shares of Synta Pharmaceuticals Corp. jumped to a three-year high Monday, after the company reported positive clinical trial data for its drug ganetespib as a treatment for a type of lung cancer.

Synta said patients who were treated with ganetespib and the chemotherapy drug docetaxel are living longer than patients who were treated with docetaxel alone. Earlier this year, Synta said the combination of ganetespib and docetaxel halted the progression of cancer for longer than docetaxel alone. The trial is designed to evaluate the drug as a secondary treatment for adenocarcinoma, a type of non-small cell lung cancer.

The company said Monday that based on the results, it expects to start a late-stage trial of ganetespib later this year.

Synta intends to enroll 240 patients in the next portion of its current trial, which is designed to identify the patients who might benefit the most from ganetespib. There will be about 500 patients in the late-stage trial.

Ganetespib is Synta's most advanced drug, and it is studying the compound as a treatment for breast cancer, liver cancer, leukemia, and several other cancers in addition to adenocarcinoma.

Shares of Synta gained $1.79, or 23.5 percent, to close Monday at $9.41 on Monday. That was the highest price for shares of the Lexington, Mass., company since February 2009.