Cell Genesys Halts Prostate Cancer Tests After Deaths

Cell Genesys Inc., the developer of an immune-system booster that was being tested against prostate cancer, halted the study after more people died on combination therapy that included the drug.

In the trial of 408 patients with advanced prostate cancer, 67 taking Cell Genesys' GVAX in combination with another medicine Taxotere died, compared with 47 who died taking the other medicine alone, the South San Francisco, California-based company in a statement distributed by Business Wire. The reason for the death imbalance isn't known, the company said.

Cell Genesys had expected to enroll 1,200 people in a study of whether GVAX can help prostate-cancer patients live longer. The company hoped its drug would the first immune-boosting treatment against cancer. People already enrolled in the study will stop taking GVAX, the company said, and no one else will be asked to participate.

``Notwithstanding this discouraging outcome, we would like to acknowledge the courage and commitment of the patients and physicians who have participated in this trial,'' said Chief Executive Officer Stephen A. Sherwin in the statement.

Cell Genesys has no products for sale and had an accumulated deficit of $491 million at the end of 2007, the company said in a regulatory filing. Sherwin said the company had $166 million in cash as of June 30, according to today's statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kurt Heine in New York at kheine1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at Rgale5@bloomberg.net.

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