Oxford Bio shares tumble after mid-stage cancer study fizzles out

More than two years ago Oxford BioMedica put out the word that the FDA had cleared a Phase II study for its troubled program for TroVax, an immunotherapy to be tested in 80 patients suffering from hormone-resistant prostate cancer. For Oxford, the mid-stage study was a key part of its comeback strategy for TroVax, which had already failed a study for renal cancer in 2008. 

But today Oxford (LSE: OXB) says it's throwing in its cards on that trial, claiming it's unable to recruit more than 26 patients over two years. Over that period of time, Provenge hit the market followed by J&J's ($JNJ) Zytiga and more recently Xtandi--none of which had any visible problems recruiting prostate cancer patients. And Aragon, a 2012 Fierce 15 company, says its recruitment effort for a 100-patient study of 504 went faster than scheduled. 

"Competition for suitable patients with HRPC has been high and recruitment into the study has been much slower than originally anticipated with 26 patients recruited to date," says Oxford in its release. "Whilst early data from this study are encouraging, the board has made a strategic decision to close the US trial in order to focus on investigator-led Phase II studies, currently in the U.K."

Oxford didn't let the fact that investigators hadn't come close to completing the study stop them from touting biomarker results and a trend to delayed disease progression in the rump patient group. Under the circumstances, though, the data are next to worthless. But as Oxford sets the stage for two more mid-stage studies, there's still a push on to find a partner.

"Securing a development or financial partner for TroVax's future late-stage development remains a key strategic priority for the company and discussions with interested parties are ongoing," notes the release.

Investors, though, appear to be less enthusiastic about the company's prospects. Oxford's share price tumbled 9% on the trial news.

- here's the press release
- read the Reuters story

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