Local biotech shares went down altogether on Friday after SillaJen said it would scrap a global phase-3 trial on Pexa-Vec, an oncolytic viral therapy for liver cancer.
Earlier in the morning before the stock market’s opening, SillaJen said in a public filing that the Independent Data Monitoring Committee (DMC) advised the company to discontinue the trial after a meeting for the evaluation of the study’s futility.
The trial, called PHOCUS, aimed to confirm if the combination therapy of Pexa-Vec and Nexavar (sorafenib) can reduce risks for liver cancer patients, compared to Nexavar alone. The futility test was regarded as a significant indicator to gauge the potential of Pexa-Vec’s value as a new drug.
SillaJen CEO Moon Eun-sang had been confident about the result of the futility test on the phase-3 trial. “The futility assessment is an important tool to measure Pexa-Vec’s first medical value. It will also enable the global market to check the credibility of Pexa-Vec and anticipation for the drug,” he had said.
However, the result turned out to be precisely the opposite. SillaJen said DMC recommended a suspension of the trial, signaling that the company failed to prove Pexa-Vec’s efficacy in liver cancer.
SillaJen shares plummeted 30 percent to 31,200 won ($26) as of 11 a.m. Friday, losing 1 trillion won ($847 million) in market capitalization in just a couple of hours.
SillaJen’s plunge pulled down other shares of biotech firms on the same day. Helixmith, Genexine, ABL Bio, Mezzion, and Eutilex suffered about 2 to 5 percent declines.
SillaJen has remained silent after the public disclosure on the DMC’s recommendation for the suspension of the trial.
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