Ark gains on hopes for cancer drug

Ark Therapeutics, the gene therapy group, gave the beleaguered UK biotech industry a shot in the arm yesterday when it said that the third phase trial of its brain cancer treatment, Cerepro, has shown good initial results and that it now expects to be able to market the drug by next year.

The company's shares rocketed on the news closing the day up 69 per cent at 80.25p. Ark had earlier said that the topline results of the tests showed that patients using the treatment were on average surviving 42 days longer than people not using Cerepro.

The results come from tests on 183 patients with the company expected to give details of another 53 cases early next year, after which it will apply to European regulators for a licence to sell the drug.

Ibraheem Mahmood, an analyst at Investec, said that while yesterday's news was encouraging, the real tonic for the group is that the positive tests validate Ark's gene based technology and that should lead to interest from some of the pharmaceutical giants. "While the news is certainly good, it is really only a by-product," he said. "Cerepro will be worth between about $500m and $1bn, but it is the first time that the technology has been shown to work and that makes it appealing to buyers."

The news will also be welcomed by the wider UK biotech market, which has a poor record of converting potential drugs in trial into commercial successes. In recent weeks two other groups, Alizyme and Oxford Biomedica, have disclosed pivotal phase three failures, which sent the share price of both companies crashing.

However, the news on Cerepro was not greeted with universal praise. KBC analyst Paul Cuddon pointed out that Cerepro will need to compete against existing medicines. "In order for the trial to be considered a success, and for the company to claim they have a blockbuster, it has to show that it is better than what is already out there, and these trials do not show that," he said. "Ark needed to show that Cerepro is more effective than Temador [another brain cancer treatment] and they have not done that. I still have major concerns."

Mr Mahmood countered that Temador, which had annual sales of $861m last year, has side effects akin to the symptoms suffered by AIDS sufferers, giving patients a poor quality of life.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)