Sarepta shares soar on muscular dystrophy study

NEW YORK -- Shares of Sarepta Therapeutics Inc. nearly tripled in value Wednesday after the company reported positive clinical data for its Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug eteplirsen.

Sarepta said eteplirsen slowed the progress of the disease and increased patients' levels of the protein dystrophin in an extension of a midstage trial. Low levels of that protein are the cause of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Eteplirsen is Sarepta's most advanced drug candidate, and in morning trading the stock jumped $25.70 to $40.69.

Shares of the Cambridge, Mass., company closed at $14.99 on Tuesday. On Wednesday the shares peaked at $43.10, their highest price since 2006.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a condition that occurs in about 1 of every 3,600 male infants. The National Institutes of Health say patients typically die before the age of 25, and Sarepta tested the drug on 12 patients between the ages of 7 and 13.

Shares of Sarepta had already more than doubled in value since July, when the company reported earlier data from the study.

Sarepta also announced that the U.S. Department of Defense canceled a contract for the development of a treatment for Ebola virus. Work on the program was stopped in August because of budget constraints. Sarepta is still developing a potential treatment for Marburg virus for the Defense Department.

The Marburg virus is indigenous to Africa and is spread through contact with infected animals or the bodily fluids of infected humans. Symptoms also include shock, delirium and multi-organ dysfunction. Sarepta said the virus is classified as a bioterrorism threat.