GenVec shares implode on pancreatic cancer trial failure

GenVec is reeling after its lead therapy TNFerade flunked a Phase III trial for pancreatic cancer. An interim analysis found that the gene therapy was unlikely to prove effective, causing the developer to discontinue the trial and cancel the TNFerade program. "We are disappointed that the PACT trial did not provide sufficient evidence of the clinical effectiveness of TNFerade to warrant completion of the trial," says Mark Thornton, SVP of product development at GenVec. The news caused GenVec's stock to plunge from close to $3 a share at yesterday's closing to under $1 a share this morning.

The loss of its lead program leaves GenVec with several other earlier-stage programs. Last month, the company inked a $213 million pact with Novartis for its preclinical program for hearing loss and balance disorders. And GenVec landed $22 million development deal with Science Applications International last November to develop new HIV and flu vaccines.

"As our shareholders know, in addition to TNFerade our research and development pipeline consists of a number of funded vaccine programs based on our industry-leading technology," Thornton says in a statement. "At this time, we will continue to focus on those programs and supporting our collaboration with Novartis to develop treatments for hearing loss," he adds.

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