On the ropes for some time now, Genta
The past couple of years have been difficult for Genta. In 2004, a similar thumbs-down vote from an advisory panel (regarding the use of a combination therapy of Genasense plus dacarbazine for the treatment of patients with advanced melanoma) prompted Genta to withdraw its new drug application (NDA) with the FDA. May 2005 saw the termination of a development and commercialization agreement with Sanofi-Aventis
Genasense is an antisense oligonucleotide-based therapy designed to knock down production of Bcl-2, a protein made by cancer cells that is thought to block chemotherapy-induced apoptosis (programmed cell death). Antisense-based therapies have not lived up to the "magic bullet" promise originally bestowed on them in the early '90s, largely because of application issues such as difficulties with systematic delivery in the body. This promise has been shifted of late, as a similar, more potent technology -- RNA interference (RNAi) with siRNAs -- has grabbed the spotlight. Under early stage development by companies like Alnylam Pharmaceuticals
Genta may not be counted out quite yet. It has $35 million in cash, which is roughly half the current market value of the company. The company still has a pending review by the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) for the use of Genasense plus dacarbazine for treatment of patients with advanced metastatic melanoma. Genta also markets Ganite for the treatment of cancer-related hypercalcemia. But with more current concerns than promise and a share price well below $1, Genta stock should only be considered by those with a strong appetite for speculation.
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Fool contributor Ralph Casale, known on the discussion boards as HelicalZz, tries to make sense of antisense. He owns shares of Johnson & Johnson, but holds no financial position in any other firm mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.