NEW YORK ( TheDeal) -- Ziopharm Oncology Inc. rebounded ever so slightly Wednesday after plunging 65% after the Charlestown, Mass.-based biotech company said its lead cancer drug, palifosfamide, flunked its Phase 3 trials.
The company's survival is now largely in the hands of billionaire biotechnology investor R.J. Kirk. Shares gained 0.8 percent to $1.84.
Ziopharm said it's scrapping development of the drug, restructuring its operations and shifting its focus to the synthetic biology drug programs it is developing in tandem with Kirk's Intrexon Corp.
"This is clearly a very difficult day for all of us," Ziopharm CEO Jonathan Lewis said on a conference call with analysts Tuesday. "But Ziopharm's future ... is one of great promise."Ziopharm had made a big bet on palifosfamide, a drug that it brought into a pricey Phase 3 trial without the backing of a large pharmaceutical partner. Palifosfamide was intended to halt cancer growth by binding cancer cell DNA and tripping up its function. Ziopharm was testing palifosfamide in two different studies. In the first, Ziopharm combined palifosfamide with doxorubicin to treat patients with metastatic soft tissue sarcoma, or STS. In the second, Ziopharm combined the drug with carboplatin and etoposide to treat a group of patients with extensive-stage small cell lung cancer. The primary endpoint of the STS study was progression-free survival, which is the length of time a patient's cancer does not grow or spread, while the primary endpoint of the lung cancer study was overall survival. Though Ziopharm didn't reveal the specifics of the data from the trial, its strategic decision spoke volumes. After the drug missed its primary endpoint in STS, Ziopharm decided not to follow up on its secondary endpoint and terminate the program altogether. "We know there is no way this drug will get to approval in any country in the world," Lewis said. With its lead drug scrapped, Ziopharm will now take an ax to its workforce, "align
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV