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Published on 21 June 2010

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Merck cancer drug trials resume


Testing for an experimental cancer vaccine under development by Merck and its US partner Oncothyreon has resumed.

Trials of Stimuvax have been given the go-ahead by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after they were suspended on March 23 when a patient contracted encephalitis following a previous trial by the drug manufacturers.

A phase III trial called START, which tests the drug in non-small cell lung cancer patients, and a separate study known as INSPIRE that tests the drug in Asian lung cancer patients have both been cleared to continue by the FDA following the setback, Merck said.

However, a third trial testing the drug in breast cancer patients, known as STRIDE, remains suspended until further notice.

Cornelia Thomas, analyst at financial services giant WestLB, said the announcement is a positive step forward for the drug, which Merck hopes could become a key pipeline drug if the trials are successful.

“It is good news for Merck that the FDA has given the go-ahead to continue the trials in lung cancer,” she said.

Copyright Press Association 2010

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