September 21, 2012 / 11:12 AM / 7 years ago

Astex Pharma ends development of lung cancer drug

(Reuters) - Cancer drugmaker Astex Pharmaceuticals Inc said it would discontinue the development of its experimental small-cell lung cancer drug, Amuvatinib, as the drug failed to achieve a high enough response rate in patients in a mid-stage study.

Shares of the company were down about 10 percent at $3 in premarket trade. They closed at $3.32 on Thursday on the Nasdaq.

The main goal of the trial, known as ESCAPE, was to show that the drug had a response rate of not less than 10 percent in treating lung cancer patients. Amuvatinib fell short with a 9.5 percent response rate.

No new safety issues were identified in the trial, the company said in a statement.

Amuvatinib is intended to target cancer cells inhibiting DNA repair, which is a survival pathway in many human cancers.

Astex, which has partnerships with Novartis and Johnson & Johnson to develop its drugs, said it would now consider licensing the compound to any partners interested in its development.

In March, U.S. health regulators rejected Japan’s Eisai Co Ltd’s application for expanding the use of Dacogen, a blood disorder drug which Astex had licensed to the company.

Reporting By Vrinda Manocha in Bangalore; Editing by Roshni Menon

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