Shares of AVI BioPharma Inc. has lost a third of their value on Wednesday after the company reported disappointing clinical trial data for its experimental treatment against the hepatitis C virus.
The shares of AVI were down $2.43, or 33 percent, to $4.83, in the heavy morning trade on the Nasdaq.
The Portland, Oregon based biotechnology company said that the results came from the second stage of a trial involving the antisense drug, called AVI-4065, among patients infected with the liver-damaging virus. Company officials have said that the drug showed favourable safety in all patients treated so far, but patients have experienced only a mean "slight decrease" in the amount of virus in their bloodstreams both during and after treatment.
In a press release the company officials said that during the 14 days of treatment, three of five patients evaluated had an initial decrease in viral load, whereas two of five exhibited little initial change. They were quick to point out that the results were still only preliminary and in only a small number of patients, and that patients remained enrolled in the study. They stated that the formal results of the trial were expected around the end of the year.
Antisense drugs, like AVI-4065, are artificial pieces of genetic material that are meant to prevent genes from expressing disease-causing proteins. Sadly the technology has not yet achieved great success despite high earlier hopes.