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Infinity Pharmaceuticals Shuts Down Cancer Trials

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Infinity Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: INFI), a drug discovery and development company, said Monday that it has pulled the plug on two trials of a drug to treat a bone marrow disorder and a form of bone cancer.

As a result of the news, Infinity Pharmaceuticals' shares plummeted on Monday, trading down over 11%.

The research was stopped after an independent data monitoring company said that the drug, saridegib, actually performed no better than a placebo in effectively stopping the growth of the cancer. Infinity Pharmaceuticals had already stopped trials on saridegib as a treatment for pancreatic cancer back in January.

In addition, trials to treat myelofibrosis, a rare bone marrow disease, with saridegrib have also been stopped as the initial data did not provide any encouragement that it would be effective.

While the news will come as a blow to Infinity Pharmaceuticals, the nature of the drug research industry is such that some research will be successful while some will inevitably end in disappointment.

Only four days ago, Infinity's Julian Adams was awarded the Warren Alpert Foundation prize, awarded by Harvard Medical School, as a result of his part in the development of the bortezomib drug to treat multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood. Still, that did not help shareholders on Monday.

“We would like to acknowledge the patients and caregivers who have participated in these trials and thank them for their support,” stated Adams, president of research and development at Infinity. “While preclinical data of saridegib have demonstrated activity in a broad range of malignancies, the clinical data to date have been disappointing. We continue to focus aggressively on the development of retaspimycin HCl and IPI-145.”

Infinity currently has two more trials under way, evaluating the clinical activity and safety of its novel heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) inhibitor, retaspimycin hydrochloride (HCl) (IPI-504), in non-small cell lung cancer.

In addition, Infinity recently completed a Phase 1 trial in normal healthy volunteers with IPI-145, a potent, oral inhibitor of phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) delta and gamma, and the company expects to begin Phase 2 development in inflammation in the second half of 2012. A Phase 1 trial of IPI-145 in patients with advanced hematologic malignancies is ongoing.

“While this news is disappointing, these disappointments are an inherent part of our business in the pursuit of transformative therapies. This is precisely why we have built a portfolio of drug candidates. Generating these data enable us to make important portfolio decisions and to focus on realizing the potential of retaspimycin HCl and IPI-145,” stated Adelene Q. Perkins, CEO. “In addition, we have a strong financial foundation that enables us to advance our ongoing trials to key value inflection points while continuing to invest in our pipeline.”

Early on Monday, shares of Infinity Pharma traded near $12.30, down over 11% on the session.

Follow me @BCallwood.

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