Cerenis Says Cholesterol Drug Fails in Mid-Stage Trial

Cerenis Therapeutics SA said its experimental cholesterol treatment failed in a mid-stage trial to reduce plaque in patients with blocked arteries.

The infusion, called CER-001, didn’t reduce blood fats more than a placebo, the Toulouse, France-based biotechnology company said today in a statement. The study, which included 507 people at 53 centers in the U.S., Canada, France and the Netherlands, showed a benefit in certain patients at one of the three dosing levels. The company plans to publish the results and present them at a future scientific meeting.

“We are undertaking a detailed review of all the data to further understand these results and to determine the best path forward for CER-001,” Chief Executive Officer Jean-Louis Dasseux said in the statement. The company is “confident” that the treatment will be shown to be effective.

The therapy is designed to mimic high-density lipoprotein, also known as good cholesterol, to remove artery-clogging plaques from tissues including arteries and transport them to the liver to be eliminated from the body. Dasseux, who founded Cerenis, said in early 2011 that the closely held company would hold off on collaborating with a larger partner or seeking other funding until it can show that CER-001 works.

“The apparent demonstration of benefit at one dose level versus placebo in our analysis is encouraging,” Stephen Nicholls, a researcher at the South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute, said in today’s statement. “CER-001 warrants further study in clinical trials to evaluate its potential benefits for patients with cardiovascular disease.”

The treatment would compete with drugs that target low-density lipoproteins, otherwise known as bad cholesterol, that cause plaques. Pfizer Inc.’s Lipitor generated sales of $3.95 billion in 2012, even after losing patent protection a year earlier.

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