Ariad Begins Clinical Trial of Breast Cancer Drug

Xconomy Boston — 

Ariad Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARIA), the Cambridge, MA-based developer of cancer drugs, said today it has started a mid-stage clinical trial of a breast cancer treatment designed to help patients who resist Genentech’s Herceptin. The drug, an oral pill called deforolimus, is designed to block the mTOR protein, which acts like a “master switch” for cancer cells. Ariad will now receive a $15 million milestone payment from its partner, drug giant Merck (NYSE: MRK) for starting the study. The trial, of 33 patients, should wrap up in the second half of 2009.