Merck pulls the plug on vintafolide

|By:, SA News Editor

Shares of Endocyte (ECYT) crater after the close in response to its announcement that a Merck (MRK) subsidiary has decided to stop development of the cancer compound vintafolide and return the worldwide rights to Endocyte.

The company will evaluate its options with the product candidate after it analyzes the results from the Phase 2b clinical trial in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. In March, the firms reported that ventifolide met its primary endpoint of progression-free survival based on interim data. Overall response rates and overall survival trends were positive.

Vintafolide is an investigational small molecule drug conjugate (SMDC) consisting of folate linked to the vinca alkaloid chemotherapy agent desacetylvinblastine hydrazide. Vintafolide targets the chemo agent to rapidly growing cancer cells that actively take up folate via the folate receptor.

In May, the companies withdrew their marketing authorization applications from the EMA for vintafolide for the treatment of ovarian cancer due to lack of efficacy.

Shares are down 25% AH on heavy volume.