Sangamo Fails Diabetic Neuropathy Study, Falls Back on HIV, Other Programs

Xconomy San Francisco — 

Sangamo Biosciences’ lead drug candidate has flunked its biggest test yet in clinical trials, and the company said this morning that it’s time to move on to other programs.

The Richmond, CA-based company (NASDAQ: SGMO) said today that SB-509 failed in a study of 170 patients that randomly assigned patients with diabetic neuropathy to a new drug or a placebo. The company has now decided to scrap development of this particular drug, and will put more emphasis on its experimental treatments for HIV and single gene disorders.

Shares of Sangamo fell 22 percent to $3.38 shortly after the opening of trading this morning.

There wasn’t any sugarcoating of the results. Sangamo’s drug missed its primary and secondary goals, in which it was seeking to help diabetes patients fight one of the most common complications of the disease—numbness and tingling of nerves in the extremities. “We are disappointed,” said Edward Lanphier, Sangamo’s president and CEO, in a statement.

Sangamo’s study has been watched by scientists because of its potential for treating disease in a new way, through its zinc-finger protein technology. The technology is used to turn specific genes on or off in all kinds of living organisms, and one of the obvious applications is to turn off disease related genes in humans. Sangamo has shown some interesting results recently with a new treatment against HIV, and for a certain kind of hemophilia, but both programs are at earlier stages of development. Sangamo, which went public in 2000, has no drugs of its own on the market.