Clovis Oncology: Pancreatic Cancer Drug Fails Late-Stage Test

BOULDER, Colo. ( TheStreet) -- Clovis Oncology ( CLVS) is shutting down development of its experimental pancreatic cancer drug C0-101 following negative results from a late-stage study, the company said Monday.

Pancreatic cancer patients treated with CO-101 did not live any longer than patients treated with the chemotherapy drug gemcitabine. Median survival in each arm of the study was approximately six months.

"We are obviously disappointed with these results, which are unambiguous," said Clovis CEO Pat Mahaffy.

Clovis shares closed Friday at $21.49.

Celgene ( CELG) reported Friday a positive survival benefit from a phase III study of its cancer drug Abraxane in pancreatic cancer.

Clovis' CO-101 is novel, lipid-conjugated form of gemcitabine developed to benefit pancreatic cancer patients with low levels of of a protein known as hENT1. Previous research suggested low hENT1 levels prevented ordinary gemcitabine from getting into pancreatic tumor cells. CO-101 was designed to enter pancreatic cancer cells independently of a patient's hENT1 status. Once inside the cell, CO-101 was converted to the active form of gemcitabine.

But Monday, Clovis acknowledged that hENT1 status had no impact on survival for pancreatic cancer patients on gemcitabine.

Clovis has two other cancer drugs in early stages of clinical studies. The company anticipates ending the year with approximately $140 million in cash.

-- Reported by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.

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