Germany’s Paion says that it has not given up on its investigational stroke drug desmoteplase which recently stumbled in a late-stage trial and is actively seeking a new US partner for the compound.

The prospects for desmoteplase looked pretty grim in June when data presented at the European Stroke Conference in Glasgow, Scotland revealed that the Phase III DIAS-2 study of the drug in acute ischemic stroke failed to indicate any difference versus placebo. At the time, Paion, and its partners Forest Laboratories of the USA and Denmark’s Lundbeck, expressed their surprise, saying that the data was “not consistent with previously-observed patterns” in other stroke trials, adding that “the absence of consistency with previous findings is not easy to explain, but in-depth analyses are planned to better understand the data”.

However Forest bailed out in August and returned all the North America rights to Paion, while Lundbeck said it would await the outcome of the detailed analysis before deciding if it will proceed with a second Phase III trial of desmoteplase. Now, Paion says that a re-analysis of that data has “yielded a sound rationale for the further development of the compound with an adjusted study design”.

This will involve focusing on patients with obstructed major brain arteries because for these people, the data from Phase II and Phase III studies of desmoteplase suggest a therapeutic benefit, “although the results fell short of any statistical significance due to the low patient numbers of the subgroups”, the Aachen-headquartered firm said.

However new studies mean more cash, hence the search for a new US partner, though for the timebeing at least Lundbeck is still on board.