Wilex shares tank as lead cancer drug goes down in flames

Wilex's lead cancer drug has gone down in flames. The German biotech--a 2005 Fierce 15 company--says that a late-stage kidney cancer therapy Rencarex failed to produce the needed survival data in a lengthy late-stage study, forcing the developer to bury the program and turn to its other Phase III cancer diagnostic program still in clinical development.

The biotech's shares tanked on the news, losing close to 63% of their value. The company was originally launched by Dietmar Hopp, a German billionaire with a yen for biotechnology.

"I have over 30 years' experience in treating patients with kidney cancer and applaud this study for being well balanced, controlled and very well conducted," said Professor Seppo Pyrhönen, who chaired the study's independent data monitoring board. "This is probably the most comprehensive study in the adjuvant setting conducted in the past 20 years."

The setback is also sour news for San Diego-based Prometheus Labs, which paid $19 million upfront for the U.S. rights to the drug.

The resources at Wilex will now be focused on Redectane, an antibody-based, imaging in vivo diagnostic agent currently in Phase III.

- here's the press release

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