Altus Shares Nosedive as Agreement With Genentech Ends

Shares in Altus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALTU) plunged nearly 50 percent today after the Cambridge company announced that an exclusive option agreement with Genentech on a drug candidate for human growth hormone had expired. Altus said it had reacquired development and commercialization rights to the drug candidate, ALTU-238, which had been granted to the California company under the deal.

“We continue to believe ALTU-238 can provide significant patient benefit with better dosing as a potential once-per-week treatment for growth hormone disorders,” said Altus CEO Sheldon Berkle in a statement. “Our goal is to resume clinical trials by mid-2008 and we expect to provide additional details regarding the clinical development plan to investors during the first quarter.”

Under the deal, which was announced a year ago, Genentech was to pay Altus $30 million up front, half of it in the form of an equity investment. In late afternoon trading, Altus shares were down $4.74 (48 percent), to $5.12.

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