Cell Therapeutics rises on orphan drug decision

NEW YORK -- Shares of Cell Therapeutics Inc. jumped Tuesday after the company said the Food and Drug Administration awarded orphan drug incentives to its brain cancer drug Opaxio.

Cell Therapeutics is studying Opaxio as a treatment for glioblastoma, the most common type of brain cancer. The FDA's decision means Opaxio is eligible for fee waivers and tax incentives, and if the drug is approved it could have up to seven years of marketing exclusivity. Orphan drug status is awarded to drugs that are intended to treat rare diseases.

Shares of Cell Therapeutics rose 41 cents, or 18.4 percent, to $2.64 in morning trading. Over the past year, shares have traded between $1.77 and $8.25.

The Seattle company said glioblastoma is typically treated with surgery and a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. It said between 10,000 and 12,000 cases are expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2012.

Opaxio is a version of the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel. It is designed to deliver larger amounts of paclitaxel directly to tumors while reducing the amount of the drug that reaches healthy tissue.