Cytos plummets on Phase II vax failure

Switzerland's Cytos Biotechnology (CYTN) stock was punished on the news that it's anti-smoking vaccine failed to hit its primary endpoint in a Phase II trial. This endpoint was defined as a statistically significant difference in continuous abstinence from smoking determined from weeks 8 to 12 after the start of treatment compared to placebo. The failure calls into question whether the drug will ever make it to market.

Novartis, Cytos' partner on the drug, will continue the study in order to collect more long-term data on the efficacy and safety of NIC002. A decision about the drug's future will be made when the year-long trial is completed and when all data has been analyzed. Cytos will probably miss a milestone payment from Novartis for the drug, which could cause serious problems for the drugmaker, according to analysts. "We see the company's prospects not only built on shaky scientific ground, as we have discussed it repeatedly over the past years, but also its financial foundation appears very fragile," Olav Zilian, analyst at Swiss brokerage Helvea, told Reuters.

Cytos cut 42 percent of its workforce back in March after another program failed a mid-stage trial for blood pressure. Today's news sent the company's stock down 30 percent in early trading.

- see Cytos' release
- here's the Reuters report for more