Shares of the UK's Antisoma plunged 65 percent on Monday after the developer announced that its latest late-stage study--this one on a once-promising leukemia drug called AS1413 (amonafide)--had failed, forcing the biotech to dump the program. The news stunned backers, who watched in dismay as Antisoma's lung cancer drug flunked a Phase III less than a year ago and the company went on to terminate a mid-stage study on yet another cancer program, AS1411.
Antisoma's blunt CEO, Glyn Edwards, didn't try to sugarcoat the bitter pill it forced on investors." This is hugely disappointing for patients, investigators, investors and employees," he said in a statement. "We will now become smaller and focus on maximizing the value of our other programs."
In a release Antisoma stated that "[s]teps will be taken immediately to reduce expenditure significantly."
One analyst, Paul Cuddon at Peel Hunt, noted that Antisoma probably can't survive this latest blow. "Sadly, we fail to see an ongoing future." He added that the roadblock Antisoma faces is the result of a common conundrum for all cancer development companies. "The difficulties faced by Antisoma reflect a broader problem in cancer drug discovery, where Phase II trials are too small and uncontrolled... Only when these problems are resolved do we see a future for small, focused cancer drug discovery companies."