Ahead of the Bell: Oncothyreon shares sink

The Associated Press

Shares of Oncothyreon plunged more than 60 percent Wednesday in premarket trading after the drug developer said a lung cancer treatment fell short of its main goal of improving overall survival.

The Seattle company said Stimuvax, which is labeled L-BLP25, was tested in patients with an advanced form of non-small cell lung cancer. The study involved more than 1,500 patients in 33 countries.

Stimuvax is designed to work by stimulating the body's immune system so that it can identify and destroy cancer cells. Oncothyreon said researchers saw "notable treatment effects" in some subgroups of the study, and it will conduct more analysis on that, but the company did not offer details.

CEO Dr. Robert Kirkman said that the results were disappointing, and he noted the drug has been under development for more than a decade.

The company said results will be discussed with outside experts and regulators in the coming months. Oncothyreon licensed the experimental drug to a division of the German company Merck KGaA, which conducted the study.

Stimuvax is the most advanced drug in Oncothyreon's pipeline of products under development, according to the company's website. It has no products on the market.

Shares of Oncothyreon Inc. fell $2.80, to hit $1.70 before the opening bell.