Cytos Biotechnology soars on results of asthma-drug study

After closing out a failed Novartis partnership in January, Cytos Biotechnology has registered some upbeat data from a mid-stage study of its lead drug against allergic asthma. On the news, Zurich-based Cytos' shares jumped 14% as of early this morning, Bloomberg reported.

The 18-year-old biotech provided some early signs of positive efficacy from the small 63-patient Phase IIa study. Patients on the company's injected drug, CYT003, showed improved symptoms of their asthma after dropping therapy with standard inhaled corticosteroids. As expected, the patients' symptoms got worse after they stopped taking the standard asthma med and switched to placebo.

With high hopes for the candidate, a modulator of innate immune activity, the company began a larger Phase IIb study in the fourth quarter of 2012 in 360 patients, targeting those whose asthma isn't controlled with standards meds. The topline data from the study are expected in the first half of 2014, according to the company. The aim of the biologic compound is to act earlier in the disease pathway to stymie inflammation in the airways of patients with allergic asthma, which afflicts about 300 million people worldwide and growing.  

Cytos has weathered some ups and downs in recent years. In January Novartis ($NVS) ditched its rights to a smoking-cessation vaccine from Cytos and the up to $500 million deal that went with it. Yet Cytos has kept the Swiss drug giant as a partner in an early-stage effort focused on CAD106, which triggers the production of antibodies against beta amyloid, providing a potential defense against one of the key culprits in memory-stealing Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's drug research has been mostly fruitless for the pharma industry, and time will tell whether Novartis' mid-stage trial initiated in 2010 will yield enough positive results to warrant further development.

- here's today's release
- and Bloomberg's article

Special Report: CAD106 - 10 promising therapeutic vaccines 2012

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