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Panel favors continuation of ArQule liver cancer drug study

(Reuters) - ArQule Inc said an independent committee recommended a late-stage study of the company's cancer drug continue with a lower dose, months after liver cancer patients who received a greater dose showed a higher incidence of a blood disorder.

ArQule shares were up nearly 30 percent after soaring as much as 81 percent in trading after the bell.

A lower dose of the company's drug, Tivantinib, reduced the incidence of a low white blood cell count, ArQule said on Thursday citing a recent review of safety data.

The drugmaker and its partner Daiichi Sankyo Inc are testing the drug as a treatment for patients with previously treated hepatocellular cancer, the most common type of liver cancer.

A Data Monitoring Committee recommended last September that the drug's dosage be reduced from 240 mg twice daily to 120 mg, and that patients be monitored to confirm the safety profile of the lower dose.

The drug, however, failed to show statistically significant improvement in overall survival in another late-stage trial on patients suffering from a type of lung cancer, ArQule said.

Woburn, Massachusetts-based ArQule shares closed at $2.36 on the Nasdaq on Thursday.

(Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das)

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