ArQule rises on renewed hope for twice-damned tivantinib

ArQule ($ARQL) watched its shares scrape the bottom last fall when it pulled the plug on a late-stage lung cancer drug, but rumors that the Woburn, MA, company is primed to release data that could revive tivantinib sent its stock price up as much as 19% on Friday.

The drug, developed with partner Daiichi Sankyo, is a cMET inhibitor designed to treat non-small cell lung cancer. The two aborted a 1,000-patient Phase III trial in October when their data monitors projected there was no way tivantinib was going to meet its primary endpoint of improving overall survival in aggressive NSCLC, tanking ArQule's stock price in the process.

So why the renewed hope? RBC Capital Markets analyst Adnan Butt told Reuters that ArQule is expected to present new data from the trial at this weekend's European Society of Medical Oncology meeting that "could validate the mechanism of action for the drug and potentially allow a path forward in lung cancer as well."

If that's true, it would bring about yet another life for the wily tivantinib.

After October's failure in lung cancer, ArQule took a shot at treating colorectal cancer by combining its drug with Eli Lilly ($LLY) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) Erbitux, revealing in January that the effort flunked Phase II. Later that month, ArQule and Daiichi reunited to give tivantinib a go in liver cancer, launching a Phase III trial on 300 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. That study is still underway.

All the while, ArQule's shares have peaked and plummeted with tivantinib's successes and failures, reaching an all-time-high $8.16 back in April 2012 before plummeting to $2.51 on October's lung cancer flop.

- read the Reuters story

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