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Ziopharm Falls After Ending Test of Top Drug Candidate

March 26 (Bloomberg) -- Ziopharm Oncology Inc., a maker of experimental cancer treatments, tumbled the most in seven years in New York trading after saying it would end plans to develop its lead drug candidate for soft tissue tumors.

The company said it would shift its focus toward other targets after the drug, palifosfamide, failed to meet its primary goals in a study. In a statement today, New York-based Ziopharm announced a restructuring to “align staffing to current objectives.” The shares dropped 65 percent to $1.82 at 4 p.m. New York time, their biggest one-day decline since November 2005.

Ziopharm shares had risen 23 percent for the year through yesterday as Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Lewis said he was in talks with other drugmakers to market palifosfamide. The compound was in late-stage trials as a treatment for soft-tissue sarcoma, a cancer of the muscle, fat and other body tissues. The disease kills about 3,900 people a year in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute.

“It is imperative that the company rapidly focus its resources and efforts on our highly promising synthetic biology programs,” Lewis said in today’s statement. Those programs include therapies that “represent the next-generation in biotechnology.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Nussbaum in New York at anussbaum1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net

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