October 14, 2009 / 1:28 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-Ziopharm cancer drug shows promise in trial, shares up

* Interim data shows Zymafos met key efficacy milestone

* Co decides to stop enrollment in trial

* Shares up as much as 38 percent (Adds CEO comment, details; updates share movement)

By Shailesh Kuber

BANGALORE, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Ziopharm Oncology Inc (ZIOP.O) said its experimental cancer treatment, Zymafos, met a key goal in a mid-stage trial, driving its shares up as much as 38 percent.

The trial is evaluating Zymafos, or palifosfamide, as a treatment for patients with unresectable or metastatic soft-tissue sarcoma.

In the mid-stage trial, patients were randomized either to doxorubicin, a chemotherapy agent in sarcoma, or to palifosfamide in combination with doxorubicin, the company said.

The interim safety data showed that the addition of palifosfamide did not add to the toxicity of single agent doxorubicin, it said.

Soft tissue sarcoma — a type of cancer — can develop from tissues such as fat, muscle, nerves, or blood vessels.

As a result of reaching a key efficacy milestone and following safety and efficacy data review, a decision was reached to stop enrollment in the trial, the company said.

The company will provide detailed data next month, after which it intends to seek U.S. regulatory approval to move to a late-stage trial.

Chief Executive Jonathan Lewis told Reuters that several companies have approached Ziopharm for partnering the drug.

He added that the company is looking to expand Zymafos in other indications such as breast cancer and lymphoma.

Shares of the company were up 20 percent at $3.48 in afternoon trade. They touched a 52-week high of $4.00 earlier in the session. (Reporting by Shailesh Kuber in Bangalore; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Aradhana Aravindan)

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