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Phytopharm shares dive as Parkinson's drug fails

Stock falls 80 per cent after Cogane failure in phase II

PhytopharmUK biopharma company Phytopharm saw its shares fall dramatically after its main pipeline asset - a drug candidate for Parkinson's disease - failed in a phase II study.

News that Cogane (PMY50028) failed to show any significant benefit in the 400-patient trial prompted a sell-off of Phytopharm shares, with the firm's stock falling 80 per cent to close a little under 2 pence yesterday.

The company also announced a strategic review of its operations, with some observers suggesting it may become a takeover or merger target as it is sitting on cash reserves of around £5.5m ($8.5m) and is also due a sizeable tax refund.

Phytopharm's chief executive Tim Sharpington said the company would not be spending any more on R&D while the strategic review is taking place.

The CONFIDENT-PD study demonstrated that Cogane failed to show a benefit across the board on key outcome measures, including the Unified Parkinson's disease rating scale (UPDRS) which measures symptoms and functional activities, such as being able to do up buttons and shoelaces.

"Cogane had demonstrated encouraging efficacy in a wide range of industry standard pre-clinical models but this promise has not translated into clinically meaningful efficacy in this study," said Sharpington.

Cogane has also been assessed in preclinical models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), but Phytopharm's only other R&D assets now are glaucoma candidate Myogane, which demonstrated inconclusive results in a preclinical model of its neuroprotective action, and a very early-stage programme in inflammation.

"During the coming weeks we will further analyse these results with our scientific advisors to better understand whether to continue the development of Cogane and Myogane," said Sharpington.

The latest disappointment comes after Phytopharm switched its initial focus on complex plant extract-derived pharmaceuticals.

This includes Hoodia gordonii for weight loss - which failed to reach the market as a functional food ingredient - to single chemical entities.

19th February 2013

From: Research

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