(Adds new VP, discovery research; updates share price)
BOSTON Jan 21 Genentech Inc DNA.N said on
Wednesday that results of a trial of its cancer drug Avastin in
colon cancer patients who have undergone surgery could be known
as early as mid-April.
The 2,710-patient study, known as NSABP C-08, is being
conducted by the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel
Project and sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, and its
results are considered important to Genentech's future market
If the statistically required number of patients whose
disease progress had not occurred by mid-April, then the NSABP
would continue the study, Genentech said in a filing with the
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Under those
circumstances the results would most likely be known later in
the second quarter of 2009, the company said.
Its shares rose 0.7 percent to $82.71 in afternoon trading
on the New York Stock Exchange.
Genentech, the world's second-biggest biotechnology company
after Amgen Inc (AMGN.O), is majority-owned by Swiss drugmaker
Roche Holding AG ROG.VX. Roche is seeking to acquire the 44
percent portion of Genentech it does not already own.
So far, Genentech has not agreed to a deal; and one reason
for the delay, according to Alexandra Hauber, an analyst at
J.P. Morgan, could be that Genentech's board is waiting for the
results of the NSABP trial in the hope that positive results
would force Roche to substantially increase its bid.
Genentech rejected a $43.7 billion, or $89-a-share, offer
and the questions on investors' minds are whether Roche will
increase its offer, and by how much.
"Positive headline data should add an incremental $6 to the
$89 offer," said Hauber, noting that some investors see
positive data as potentially adding $20 a share in value.
"We estimate a positive C-08 study would require Roche to
increase their offer to the mid-nineties - a level that is
probably already priced into the Roche share price," Hauber
said in a research note.
The late-stage, or Phase III study, is designed to test the
effect of chemotherapy with or without Avastin on disease-free
survival in patients with resected Stage II or III colon
Avastin is one of the most important drivers of future
growth at Genentech. The drug is currently approved to treat
metastatic and advanced colorectal cancer. The NSABP study is
designed to show it can delay disease progression in an earlier
setting after tumors have been removed by surgery.
Separately, Genentech named Jennifer A. Doudna to the
position of vice president, discovery research. The company
said she will oversee the departments of protein chemistry and
Doudna joins Genentech from the University of California,
Berkeley, where she has been a professor in the Department of
Molecular and Cell Biology and the Department of Chemistry.
(Reporting by Toni Clarke, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)