AtheroGenics Inc. (Nasdaq: AGIX), a pharmaceutical company focused on the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases, has announced positive results from a Phase I clinical trial that assessed the safety and tolerability of AGI-1096, an oral drug for the prevention of organ transplant rejection.

The announcement sent shares of AGIX up more some nine percent to $6.22 after a previous close of $5.71. Earlier in the day, shares reached as high as $7. The 52-week range for AGIX is from $2.23 to $8.45.

The Phase I trial was an open-label, ascending single dose, safety and pharmacokinetics trial in healthy volunteers, says AtheroGenics. A total of 48 subjects received single doses of AGI-1096, ranging from 5 mg to 640 mg.

AtheroGenics says the results from this trial demonstrated that AGI-1096 was well tolerated over the escalating single oral doses studied. Adverse events were generally mild and not considered clinically significant, the company says, and subjects reached targeted plasma concentration levels for AGI-1096 that were based on those that resulted in efficacy in pre-clinical models of solid organ transplant rejection.

“These results continue to bolster the enthusiasm we have for our pipeline of novel vascular protectant drug candidates,” Russell M. Medford, president and chief executive officer of AtheroGenics, said in a statement. “If successfully developed, AGI-1096 may potentially provide a unique complementary therapy to immunosuppressants currently being used to prevent organ transplant rejection.”

AGI-1096 is a selective anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant derived from AtheroGenics’ v-protectant technology platform. The company says AGI-1096 represents a novel approach to treating transplant rejection by diminishing the inflammatory response associated with the transplant and by protecting the blood vessels to the transplanted organ through its v-protectant activity.

Atlanta-based AtheroGenics says it has four ongoing drug development programs. Protocols are currently being defined for a Phase III program for the company’s most advanced clinical compound, AGI-1067, an oral therapy for atherosclerosis. AGI-1067 is being studied in a Phase IIb clinical trial for the treatment of atherosclerosis and post-angioplasty restenosis. AGIX-4207, also derived from its v-protectant technology, is an oral agent in a Phase II for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. AGIX-4207 I.V. is an intravenous rheumatoid arthritis treatment that has completed a Phase I clinical study.