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Surprise, Surprise

An otherwise disappointing trial offers new hope.

Like most biotech upstarts, Dendreon is misunderstood on Wall Street. Investors got a case of the jitters in September, when it released the final audited numbers from its first late-stage clinical trial of Provenge, a novel prostate cancer vaccine. After Dendreon essentially reiterated last yearís bad news that the compound failed to meet its endpoints, the Street beat down its shares by 8%.

But the audited results from Dendreonís Phase III trials revealed that Provenge is not the complete failure Wall Street had assumed it was. Although the drug failed to reach its endpoints, it managed to boost patient survival by seven months. That news came on top of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration decision earlier in the month to grant Provenge fast-track status, guaranteeing a speedy review.

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