Italy's MolMed close to announcing cancer drug results

MILAN, March 26 Wed Mar 26, 2014 4:45pm EDT

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MILAN, March 26 (Reuters) - Italy's MolMed is close to presenting results from Phase III clinical trials of a new cancer treatment that could represent a turning point for the biotech company, its founder said on Wednesday.

The Milan-based company has developed the NGR-hTNF molecule to treat mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos, and expects to announce results of the trials by the end of June, Claudio Bordignon told Reuters.

"There is no competitor, there is no drug for the cure of mesothelioma," Bordignon said, adding that MolMed is likely to seek a partner to produce and market the product.

In a note broker Jefferies said it believed NGR to be an attractive asset that could attract partners to fund further development.

A positive Phase III outcome could result in a licensing deal that the company is likely to need to avoid a potential cash shortfall by the first half of 2015, the broker said.

MolMed's pipeline also includes TK, a cell-based therapy aimed at improving the success rate of bone marrow transplants in patients with high-risk leukaemia.

On Wednesday the company said that the European Medicines Agency had approved the submission of its request for conditional approval of TK, effectively kicking off the approval process.

"Recent presentations confirm an impressive and durable effect on survival (with TK). However, our primary concern remains manufacturing capacity (due to) cash constraints," Jefferies said.

MolMed has asked shareholders to stump up about 5 million euros ($6.9 million) in a capital increase that will end on March 28. ($1 = 0.7254 Euros)

(Reporting by Massimo Gaia; Writing by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by David Goodman)

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