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Yet another vaccine failure: Widely-hyped GSK cancer vaccine fails in clinical trials

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: GlaxoSmithKline, cancer vaccine, clinical trial failure

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(NaturalNews) Millions of dollars spent and several years' worth of laborious clinical trials have proven to be insufficient at showing any potential benefits for MAGE-A3, GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) new experimental vaccine for cancer. According to recent reports, the wildly hyped vaccine drug has failed once again during late-stage clinical trials to show any promise in melanoma patients, despite undergoing several stages in the costly and time-consuming clinical trial process.

One of two high-risk, experimental drugs currently being developed by GSK, MAGE-A3 was intended to become a multi-billion dollar "blockbuster" drug that would generate obscene profits for the drug giant as many of its other blockbuster drugs go off patent. According to Reuters, the company has been banking on approval for both MAGE-A3 and another experimental heart drug known as darapladib, which together could provide some serious long-term cash flow for the company.

But MAGE-A3 is apparently not working as intended, working no better than placebo at curing melanoma, which means GSK will have to either scrap the project or come up with some crafty new way to fabricate some sort of efficacy. And the company appears to be doing the latter, as it now intends to proceed with a Phase III trial of MAGE-A3 to see whether or not a specific subset of patients with a particular genetic signature can derive any benefit from the drug. In other words, GSK plans to do whatever it takes to find some use for MAGE-A3.

"This asset was widely regarded as a 'wild card' by the market," says Alistair Campbell of Berenberg Bank, who told reporters that the chances of MAGE-A3 being a success are "slim." "While there had been some hope that this approach might work, the result is not a surprise."

Company co-developing MAGE-A3 with GSK witnesses considerable drop in share prices following announcement

Agenus Inc., the company that has been collaborating with GSK on the project, saw serious drops in its stock value following the announcement. According to Bloomberg, the company experienced a whopping 23 percent plunge to $2.84 a share, its biggest drop since October 2009. Since the beginning of the year, Agenus shares have dropped a total of 31 percent, while GSK's shares also dropped by 0.8 percent following the announcement.

Roth Capital Partners analyst Joseph Pantginis, who has been following Agenus and the progress of MAGE-A3 from the start, reduced his company's projected chances of success for the drug in melanoma from 50 percent to just 5 percent after hearing the news. And in lung cancer, which is GSK's new target for MAGE-A3 trials, expectations of success have been slashed from 50 percent to just 15 percent.

Meanwhile, GSK and Agenus are busy setting up new trials aimed at achieving the second co-primary endpoint, which is a subset of MAGE-A3 positive patients that may derive benefit from the immunotherapy. According to an announcement by GSK, results of this analysis are expected to be released in 2015.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.reuters.com

http://www.bloomberg.com

http://www.gsk.com

http://online.wsj.com

http://www.medpagetoday.com
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