Infinity Pharma writes off lead drug after two more failed studies

Independent monitors stepped in to shut down another mid-stage cancer study of Infinity Pharmaceuticals' ($INFI) lead drug saridegib after concluding that the experimental therapy was performing no better than a placebo. And the Cambridge, MA-based biotech, a 2005 Fierce 15 company, shuttered another study of the same drug after a look at the results for the first 12 evaluable patients with myelofibrosis discouraged them from continuing.

The news follows an announcement back in January that the cancer drug flunked a mid-stage trial for pancreatic cancer. And the fresh setbacks triggered another brutal day for the company's shares, which quickly plunged more than 20% this morning. For Infinity, which has ambitious plans to go all the way in creating a full-fledged drug company, it was time to shift focus to the next two programs in the pipeline.

"While preclinical data of saridegib have demonstrated activity in a broad range of malignancies, the clinical data to date have been disappointing," acknowledged Julian Adams, the head of R&D. "We continue to focus aggressively on the development of retaspimycin HCl and IPI-145." No more studies of saridegib are planned.

Infinity has two trials under way evaluating its heat shock protein 90 inhibitor, retaspimycin hydrochloride (IPI-504), in non-small cell lung cancer. Infinity says it should report results from its Hsp90 and PI3K programs in the second half of 2012. 

- here's the press release