Shares of Canadian biotech firm, Aeterna Zentaris, Inc. (Nasdaq: AEZS) were up as much as 35 percent in mid day trading today after its partner, Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: KERX) announced positive Phase 2 data from its cancer treatment perifosine (KRX-0401), an Akt-inhibitor compound that is used as a treatment for colon and kidney cancer.
Perifosene is in-licensed by Keryx from Aeterna Zentaris.
The data was presented over the weekend at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting. The poster #4081 entitled, “Randomized Phase 2 study of perifosine in combination with capecitabine versus capecitabine alone in patients with second- or third-line metastatic colon cancer”, showed that perifosine combined with capecitabine, more than doubled time to progression versus capecitabine plus placebo with a statistically significant p-value. In addition, perifosine plus capecitabine more than doubled the Overall Response Rate and almost doubled the Clinical Benefit Rate versus capecitabine plus placebo.
Aeterna Zentaris’ annual revenues during the last years have been in the range of $35 million to $40 million, coming from sales of marketed products, license agreements and services.
In March 2009, the company signed a collaboration agreement with leading pharmaceutical company, Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE: SNY) for the commercialization of the company’s lead compound, cetrorelix, which is used in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a benign enlargement of the prostate.
“The agreement provided us with an upfront payment of $30 million, bringing the total of our non-dilutive funding over the last 18 months to roughly $100 million,” said Aeterna Zentaris CEO, Juergen Engel Ph.D, in a recent interview.
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