GSK upbeat on heart drug, cancer vaccine despite setbacks
LONDON Feb 5 (Reuters) - Two high-risk bets by GlaxoSmithKline on new ways to fight heart disease and cancer were dealt a double blow last year by dud clinical trials - but the company remains hopeful about both projects.
Chief Executive Andrew Witty said on Wednesday there were still "intriguing" opportunities for its heart drug darapladib and MAGE-A3 therapeutic cancer vaccine.
Many analysts stripped out forecasts for darapladib, which is designed to prevent heart attacks and strokes in a completely different way from cholesterol-lowering drugs, after it failed to reduce risks in the first of two big final Phase III trials in November.
GSK, however, is continuing to investigate the drug's role in coronary heart disease and Witty told analysts in a call following full-year results that further data on the approach would be presented at a medical meeting next month.
He was also upbeat about prospects for the MAGE-A3 cancer vaccine in other tumour settings, despite initial negative results in melanoma in September.
Unlike traditional preventative vaccines, MAGE-A3 is designed for people with established disease, helping their immune systems to prevent the return of tumours after surgery.
In fact the head of Britain's biggest drugmaker said both darapladib and MAGE-3 were among the most promising drugs in the company's pipeline.
He also highlighted a new triple combination respiratory drug, a long-acting integrase inhibitor for HIV and a drug for pre-term labour, all of which could start final Phase III clinical testing this year or next.
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