Adverse events force Conatus to shelve PhII study of lead HCV therapy

Earlier this year San Diego-based Conatus Pharmaceuticals was able to round up a $32.5 million B round from a group of venture backers which included Roche Ventures, largely based on the promise of its mid-stage HCV program for CTS-1027. Now it says it's been forced to terminate a Phase II study after spotting "laboratory abnormalities and adverse events in a subset of clinical trial participants."

The statement was short and anything but sweet. The developer added that it is "conducting a thorough review of the available data to assess any future development of the compound." There was no explanation of what adverse events had been recorded.

Conatus's executive team spun out of Idun after Pfizer ($PFE) bought out that company in 2005, then licensed 1027 from F. Hoffman-La Roche. In the spring of 2010 it bought back the Idun unit for an undisclosed sum. The HCV program was styled as an ideal candidate for a future oral cocktail therapy for hepatitis B, a focus that has captured the attention of a prominent group of biotech companies racing to achieve the next big milestone in treating patients.

AgeChem Venture Fund of Montreal led the latest round with additional money coming from Aberdare Ventures, Advent Venture Partners, Bay City Capital, Gilde Healthcare Partners and Roche Venture Fund. MPM Capital joined in April.

- here's the release