HGS cancer drug fails another mid-stage trial

Human Genome Sciences (HGSI) says that a combination of Velcade and its experimental cancer drug mapatumumab (HGS-ETR1) flunked a mid-stage trial for multiple myeloma, with the data failing to demonstrate an improvement over Velcade alone.

"The results showed no difference in disease response or progression-free survival for the combination that included mapatumumab vs. the control group receiving bortezomib alone, and showed that mapatumumab was well tolerated in this study," HGS said in a statement. The antibody was expected to induce cancer cell death by activating the TRAIL receptor 1 protein.

Another Phase II trial is currently underway to evaluate mapatumumab's potential in combination with Nexavar (sorafenib) for advanced hepatocellular cancer. The drug also failed a mid-stage study for lung cancer in March. But the fresh stumble in its cancer program didn't have much impact on the developer's shares, which rose slightly this morning. Analysts are primarily interested with HGS's lupus drug Benlysta, which has megablockbuster potential.

- check out the HGS release for more info