Aeterna craters after researchers slam brakes on another failed perifosine PhIII

Canada's Aeterna Zentaris ($AEZS) took another bad hit today after it announced that it is scuttling a Phase III study of perifosine for relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma. The move came after the drug safety monitoring board decided that there was little to no chance the therapy would meet the hurdle for progression-free survival.

Little Aeterna, which studied the drug in combination with Velcade, was widely expected to report a failure, immediately scrambled into damage control mode. Its stock immediately dropped almost 30% on the news.

"We are obviously disappointed with the outcome of the interim analysis as reported to us by the DSMB, both from a patient and company perspective," said CEO Juergen Engel. "However, we remain focused on other significant opportunities such as our Phase III trial in endometrial cancer and Phase II trials in breast, prostate and bladder cancer with AEZS-108, our NDA filing for AEZS-130 as an oral diagnostic test for growth hormone deficiency in adults, as well as our earlier-stage oncology compound, AEZS-120."

The failure comes as little surprise to long-time Aeterna watchers. A little less than a year ago the drug failed a late-stage colon cancer study mounted by its collaborator Keryx ($KERX), which caused shares for both companies to crater. Micro cap biotechs also have a dismal overall record when it comes to Phase III cancer studies, a point often made by TheStreet's Adam Feuerstein.

- here's the press release

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