Nektar stops clinical trials for key cancer drug, shares tumble

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A sign stands outside a Bristol Myers Squibb facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 20, 2021. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

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April 14 (Reuters) - Nektar Therapeutics said on Thursday it had stopped all trials involving its key cancer drug following its failure in multiple studies, dragging the drug developer's shares down 23% in after-market trading.

The trials that Nektar stopped included those involving a combination of its drug bempegaldesleukin with Bristol Myers Squibb Co's (BMY.N) cancer drug Opdivo as well Merck & Co Inc's (MRK.N) cancer drug Keytruda. (https://bit.ly/3xy0moX)

Nektar and Bristol Myers were testing the combination therapy through an agreement signed in 2020, while the one with Keytruda involved a partnership entered with privately owned SFJ Pharmaceuticals last year. (https://bit.ly/3CGjdyK)

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Nektar and Bristol Myers last month discontinued two late-stage studies testing their combination therapy in melanoma patients after one of the trials failed to meet its main goals. read more

On Thursday, Nektar and Bristol said the combination of drugs failed to meet goals in another late-stage study in patients with renal cell carcinoma, as well as in a study testing the therapy in urothelial carcinoma, a type of bladder cancer.

With Nektar now halting multiple trials of its key drug, the company said it expects to announce a new strategic plan to rein in spending to meet its cash runway goals.

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Reporting by Leroy Leo in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

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