NEW YORK, Feb. 12, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc. (Nasdaq:ZIOP) announced today that the Phase 3 (PICASSO 3) trial of palifosfamide (ZIO-201) in first-line metastatic soft tissue sarcoma has reached its target number of progression-free survival (PFS) events. PICASSO 3 is an international, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial whose primary endpoint is PFS. According to the protocol and statistical plan, reaching the target number of PFS events leads to completion of the blinded data collection process and then formal efficacy analysis by the IDMC (Independent Data Monitoring Committee). The Company will announce topline results from this trial during the last week of March 2013. "Reaching the target number of progression events for PICASSO 3 positions us one step closer to understanding palifosfamide's full potential for this significant unmet medical need," said Jonathan Lewis, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of ZIOPHARM. "With a positive study outcome, palifosfamide has the potential to become the first new treatment option in nearly 30 years for patients with first-line metastatic soft tissue sarcoma." About ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc.: ZIOPHARM Oncology is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of new cancer therapies. The Company's clinical programs include: Palifosfamide (ZIO-201) is a potent bi-functional DNA alkylating agent that has activity in multiple tumors by evading typical resistance pathways. Palifosfamide is in the same class as bendamustine, cyclophosphamide, and ifosfamide. Intravenous palifosfamide is currently being studied in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled Phase 3 trial (PICASSO 3) for the treatment of first-line metastatic soft tissue sarcoma and is also in a pivotal Phase 3 trial (MATISSE) for first-line metastatic small cell lung cancer. Additionally, the Company is developing an oral capsule form of palifosfamide. Ad-RTS IL-12 is currently being tested in a Phase 2 study. Ad-RTS IL-12 uses synthetic biology to enable controlled, local delivery of therapeutic interleukin-12 (IL-12), a protein important for an immune response to cancer. ZIOPHARM's DNA synthetic biology platform is being developed in partnership with Intrexon Corporation and employs an inducible gene-delivery system that enables controlled, local delivery of genes that produce therapeutic proteins to treat cancer. This is achieved by placing IL-12 under the control of a proprietary biological "switch" (the RheoSwitch Therapeutic System ®, RTS ®) to turn on/off the therapeutic protein expression at the tumor site. Indibulin (ZIO-301) is a novel, tubulin binding agent that is expected to have several potential benefits, including oral dosing, application in multi-drug resistant tumors, no neuropathy and a tolerable toxicity profile. It is currently being studied in a Phase 1/2 trial in metastatic breast cancer.