BioLineRx Shares Fall On Schizophrenia Drug Failure

JERUSALEM ( TheStreet) -- An experimental drug from BioLineRx ( BLRX) failed to improve the cognitive ability of patients with schizophrenia, forcing the company to halt a mid-stage clinical trial.

BioLineRx shares were plunging 51% to $1.66 in Wednesday morning trading.

While antipsychotics are effective in treating hallucinations, delusions and loss of normal function associated with schizophrenia, none of the currently approved drugs improve cognitive abilities like attention, memory, reasoning and problem solving. Earlier studies of BioLine's experimental drug BL-102 showed some evidence of improved cognitive ability in schizophrenia patients, which the company hoped to confirm in a larger trial.

A pre-planned interim analysis of the larger, phase II/III trial known as "Clarity" found no difference in cognitive improvement between patients treated with BL-1020 or risperidone, the most widely-prescribed antipsychotic for schizophrenia marketed by Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ) under the brand name Risperdal.

BioLine discontinued the Clarity study due to the futility of BL-1020. The company said research and development expenses for 2013 and 2014 will fall by approximately $6-7 million. BioLine said $28 million of cash on hand will fund operations into 2015.

-- Reported by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.

Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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