Shares in Antisoma have collapsed this morning after an interim analysis of a late-stage trial of a lung cancer drug partnered with Novartis noted that continuing the trail would be futile.

The UK company says the ATTRACT-1 Phase III trial of ASA404 in previously-untreated non-small cell lung cancer has been halted, “as there is little or no prospect of demonstrating a survival benefit” with the drug in this setting. No new or unexpected serious adverse effects of ASA404 have been identified by the trial's data monitoring committee.

This is a huge blow for Antisoma which licensed the drug to Novartis in April 2007, pocketing a $75 million upfront payment and $25 million for starting the late-stage trial. The firm was hopeful that ASA404 could become a blockbuster but it looks like the end of the road for the compound as Novartis says it is now evaluating the overall clinical programme for ASA404 in lung cancer and other indications.

Unsurprisingly the market has reacted badly to the news and at 10.40 this morning (UK time) Antisoma shares were down 66% to under 11%. Novartis shares have slipped slightly but it has a number of other oncology compounds in its pipeline.

Antisoma, had £45.1 million in cash and equivalents at the end of February and says it will now focus on completing Phase III trials of its leukaemia drug AS1413 and developing another leukaemia treatment, AS1411, which is in Phase II.