On Monday, experimental drug developer Synta Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:SNTA) reported a first-quarter loss of $16.4 million and ended the quarter with $77.9 million in cash. The future appears bright for the company's diverse pipeline, especially lead drug candidate STA-4783, which has shown a survival benefit in hard-to-treat melanoma.

In September 2006, the company released promising results for STA-4783 in a phase 2b clinical trial for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. Based on these results, Synta plans to initiate a pivotal phase 3 clinical trial in metastatic melanoma by mid-year and will also study the drug against other types of cancer. Synta will be presenting full survival data from the phase 2b melanoma trial at ASCO, which takes place early next month.

Synta's second clinical-stage drug candidate, apilimod, is currently involved in a phase 2a clinical trial for rheumatoid arthritis and sponsoring a phase 2a clinical trial in patients with common variable immunodeficiency. The company does have a few pre-clinical compounds and is looking to advance one into clinical trials later this year. All of Synta's drug candidates were discovered and developed internally, using the company's proprietary chemical compound library.

Synta's pipeline also includes a drug that has shown a survival benefit in metastatic melanoma, which is very difficult to treat. With shares currently trading below the IPO price from earlier this year, Synta has excellent potential for patient biotech investors who are willing to wait for further validation of the company's pipeline in upcoming clinical trials.

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Fool contributor Mike Havrilla, R.Ph., B.S., Pharm.D., is a Rite Aid pharmacist who lives, writes, works, and enjoys running on the streets and trails of Portage, Penn. He invites your comments and feedback. Mike does not have a position in any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.