Oxford BioMedica shares in meltdown on TroVax failure

Oxford BioMedica says that a late-stage trial of its lead drug therapy TroVax--a vaccine being studied for renal cancer--failed to hit its main objective. An advisory group said too many deaths in the vaccine trial would make it impossible for the therapy to achieve its primary endpoint. And that news sent the company's stock into a tailspin, with shares losing as much as three quarters of its value.

CEO Mike McDonald spent a good part of today insisting to reporters that the news was a setback but not permanently damaging to the biotech. He said that there was still a chance that the trial would deliver evidence of a late survival benefit. And while further vaccinations have been stopped, the trial will continue. The next big question is whether Sanofi-Aventis, which is partnered on the drug, will back new development plans.

"We have a respectable cash pile, we had £38 million at the beginning of this year, at the half year I can't reveal the exact number but it's going to be of the order of 30 million, so we are not in financial straights but clearly our expectation of having substantial milestones coming in, we're now looking at that being a bit further away," said Oxford BioMedica finance chief Andrew Wood. "We are of course examining now very carefully our spending and our priorities."

- see the release
- read the report from Hemscott