By Caroline Chen January 29, 2014 in Bloomberg Businessweek
Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc. (PGNX:US) fell the most in 14 months after a study summary showed two patients died of sepsis in a trial of the company’s experimental prostate cancer treatment.
Progenics tumbled (PGNX:US) 19 percent to $5.04 at 12:11 p.m. New York time, after losing as much as 20 percent for its biggest intraday drop since November 2012. The Tarrytown, New York-based company’s stock had doubled in the 12 months through yesterday.
The targeted chemotherapy treatment for prostate cancer is designed to act as a “Trojan horse,” remaining stable in the blood then releasing toxins once inside tumor cells, according to company’s website. The study abstract appears to show that even at a lower dose of the drug, PSMA-ADC, patients could experience life-threatening levels of toxicity, said Brian Klein, an analyst at New York-based Stifel Nicolaus & Co.
The deaths suggest that the drug has “a major impact on the immune system,” Klein said in a phone interview.
Progenics is scheduled to discuss the study tomorrow at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium in San Francisco. A summary was posted on the symposium’s website, revealing the two deaths. A spokeswoman for Progenics didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment on the findings.
PSMA-ADC is a so-called antibody-drug conjugate, which uses an antibody to find and bind with a protein on the surface of prostate cancer cells then deliver a cancer-killing chemical. Sepsis is often the result of a blood or tissue infection that causes the immune system to attack the body in a way that can typically lead to multiple organ failure and death.
“We believe this compound does not demonstrate the necessary characteristics to move forward into late stage testing,” Klein, who has a hold rating on Progenics, said in the note.
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