ResVerlogix cholesterol drug fails mid-stage trial

* Says drug met secondary endpoints of lowering HDL

* Shares fall as much as 45 pct

Nov 17 (Reuters) - ResVerlogix's RVX.TO experimental drug failed to achieve its main goal of increasing production of protein associated with good cholesterol and clear plaque from arteries, sending its shares down as much as 45 percent.

The drug RVX-208 is aimed at increasing the production of a substance called ApoA-1, which raises the amount of high density lipoprotein (HDL) that carries harmful blood fats out of the system.

The drug didn’t cause a significant difference in apoA-1 levels compared to placebo according to a late-breaking clinical trial reported at the American Heart Association’s (AHA’s) Scientific Sessions.

However, the drug did cause a statistically significant increase in blood levels of both HDL and the largest HDL particles.

“The study may not have had enough patients to answer its primary question about ApoA-1,” lead author of the trial, Stephen Nicholls, said in a statement with the AHA.

The HDL-raising effect was a secondary finding.

Biotechnology company ResVerlogix is focused on research and development of therapeutics that address the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Also, rival Merck & Co's MRK.N experimental heart drug, from a class of medicine with a troubled past, appeared to be safe and had a "jaw dropping" effect on both good and bad cholesterol levels, according to data from a clinical trial. [ID:nN17195433]

Merck’s anacetrapib increased good HDL levels by a stunning 138 percent after 24 weeks of treatment, and lowered levels of bad LDL cholesterol by 40 percent in patients already taking LDL-lowering statins, researchers said.

ResVerlogix shares, which have gained 55 percent in the past three months, were trading down 36 percent at C$2.88 Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Anand Basu and Arnika Thakur in Bangalore; Editing by Vyas Mohan)