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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Drug Offers Hope On Cancer

LONDON -- Encouraging test results from a new drug offered cancer sufferers new hope and sent the manufacturer's shares soaring on Tuesday -- but experts warned it was unlikely to cure one of the world's biggest killers.

The drug, Marimastat, seeks to prevent the growth and spread of a tumour unlike other drugs which try to kill tumors.

It offers the prospect of a breakthrough in the fight against cancer, one of medicine's most implacable enemies and which affects an estimated seven million people worldwide at any one time.

Shares in Europe's leading biotechnology firm, British Biotech Plc, rose 33 percent to an all-time high of 38.25 pounds ($57.83) when the long-awaited trials from its leading drug proved to be positive.

The Imperial Cancer fund welcomed the results but warned it could take years to find out how effective Marimastat might be.

"Marimastat is an interesting compound which, used alongside other therapies, may have the potential to allow people to live with their cancers although it is unlikely to cure cancer," said Dr Frances Balkwill, head of its Biological Therapy Laboratory.

The firm said positive results recorded in November trials had now been confirmed in more patients. It said no severe drug toxicity had shown. Some muscular and skeletal pain was the only side effect.

"We now have initial evidence of a clinical response to Marimastat in pancreatic and ovarian cancer ... Marimastat can now be progressed to definitive clinical trials," said Peter Lewis, the firm's research and development director.

Lewis said the trials had shown the effects of the drug appeared to slow progression and prolong patient survival in cases of pancreatic and ovarian cancer.

The drug will now go on to trials comparing it with existing cancer drugs and a placebo.