AN EXPERIMENTAL antidepressant from AstraZeneca and Targacept failed to meet the goal of changing a key depression rating score in the first of a series of pivotal clinical trials, in a setback for both firms.
The result, announced by the companies yesterday, relates to the so-called Renaissance 3 Phase III study into TC-5214, a flexible dose trial conducted in Europe.
TC-5214 -- which is viewed by analysts as a high-risk, high-reward project -- is designed to work in a novel way by modulating neuronal nicotinic receptors in the brain. Over-stimulation of these receptors is thought to be associated with depression. AstraZeneca agreed in 2009 to pay as much as $1.24bn (£771m) for rights to the drug, including an upfront payment of $200m, and TC-5214 has been one of the few potential bright spots in AstraZeneca’s pipeline.
The setback could dent confidence in the company’s line-up of new drugs, although many analysts have avoided banking on the medicine’s success.The success of TC-5214 is more critical for Targacept, whose share price performance is linked closely to the fate of the new medicine. The drug is the product of lengthy research at Targacept, a small US drugmaker that began life as part of RJ Reynolds Tobacco and has for years been using its understanding of nicotine to develop experimental treatments for depression.
City A.M. Reporter