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Struggling EntreMed Preaches Patience

May 12, 2000|Bloomberg News

Life gets no easier for beleaguered biotech stock investors.

Shares of EntreMed Inc., which is developing an anti-cancer drug, plummeted Thursday after the Boston Globe quoted a top investigator saying that he had seen no "major clinical response to date" in tests of the company's drug.

The stock (ticker symbol: ENMD) dove $12.63 to $28.88 on Nasdaq. The price had reached a peak of $101.25 in the mania for biotech stocks early this year.

The Globe quoted James Pluda, a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute, which is overseeing two of the three trials, one of them in Boston at Dana-Farber Partners Cancer Care.

But in an interview with Bloomberg News, Pluda said he isn't discouraged by the lack of dramatic effects in the Phase I trials of the drug, Endostatin.

"If people thought that whatever dose we gave, tumors were going to shrink instantly the first time we put it in humans--those expectations were too high," he said.

Pluda said that the last time he saw data on Endostatin was in March, at a meeting for the researchers studying the drug.

"As far as I am aware, there were no patients that had at least a 50% shrinkage in the tumor," which would be a major clinical response, Pluda said. "That doesn't mean that there aren't patients who have had tumors shrink less than that, or who are stable, or who are doing well on the therapy."

It isn't unusual for cancer drugs that turn out to be effective not to show striking benefits in the initial Phase I studies, he said.

EntreMed's CEO, John Holaday, told Bloomberg: "We're at the very early stages of clinical testing. The purpose of a Phase I study is simply to evaluate safety. You need to show the drugs are safe before you can go on to further studies, which we'll begin toward the end of the year."

EntreMed recently decided not to present research from the Endostatin study at one of the world's largest cancer meetings, the American Society for Clinical Oncology, to be held this month.

Many investors may have expected some proof at the meeting that EntreMed's drug showed a benefit in patients. But researchers from Boston's Dana-Farber, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Medical Center in Houston and the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center in Madison decided they wouldn't push to have their results accepted by the conference at the last minute because they didn't think they had complete findings, EntreMed said.


Hammered Again Shares of biotech firm EntreMed tumbled on Thursday on doubts about its anti-cancer drug. Weekly closes and latest on Nasdaq: Source: Bloomberg News

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