* To focus on development of next most advanced medicine
* Says has cash to fund operations until end-2011
* Shares suspended from trade for day
(Rewrites throughout with stopping development of lead drug)
By Sam Cage
ZURICH, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Swiss biotech Addex ADXN.S stopped development of its lead drug candidate after reporting liver problems in a clinical study, ending hopes for a lucrative partnering deal and raising questions over its survival.
It is the latest in a long line of setbacks in the Swiss biotech industry after clinical flops at companies like Cytos CYTN.S, BioXell BXLN.S, Arpida EVE.S and Santhera SANN.S, underlining the risky nature of the biotech business.
Analysts had reckoned the drug, ADX10059, could net sales of more than $1 billion a year and the company -- which does not yet generate sales -- had been aiming for a partnering deal to help raise cash to fund operations.
Routine safety monitoring of Addex’s Phase IIb trial of ADX10059 in migraine revealed a higher incidence of abnormalities of liver function than expected, the group said late on Monday. [ID:nLDE5BD24E]
Addex shares had been indicated to fall some 30 percent at the open on Tuesday after it reported liver problems in a study of ADX10059 against migraine, before trade was suspended at the request of the company.
The Geneva-based company’s next most advanced drug, ADX48621, has completed early stage testing and should start a mid-stage trail for treatment of Parkinson’s disease levodopa induced dyskinesia in the fourth quarter next year.
"We have cash for operations until the end of 2011 and plan to focus our efforts on development of ADX48621," said Chief Executive Officer Vincent Mutel said in a statement. The company already has partnership deals with two big U.S. healthcare companies, Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N and Merck & Co Inc MRK.N, while S.R. One, the venture capital arm of Britain's GlaxoSmithKline GSK.L, has a 5 percent stake. (Editing by Mike Nesbit and David Cowell)