Aeterna Zentaris has suffered a huge blow after being forced to call time on a late-stage trial of its blood cancer drug on lack of efficacy.

The company's stock dived nearly 30% after investor confidence was rocked by news that an Independent Data Safety Monitoring Board recommended discontinuing the ongoing Phase III study of perifosine.

The trial was designed to assess the drug's safety and efficacy compared to placebo when combined with Velcade (bortezomib) and dexamethasone in patients with relapsed or relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma. 

But a pre-planned interim analysis suggests is it "highly unlikely" the drug would offer a significant benefit in progression-free survival, though no safety issues were apparent, the Board said.

The Canadian drugmaker said it is disappointed with the outcome of the analysis, but noted that its focus will remain on "other significant opportunities", including a late-stage trial in endometrial cancer and Phase II studies in breast, prostate and bladder cancer with its investigational compound AEZS-108.

Perifosene is still being developed in other cancers, including neuroblastoma and renal cell carcinoma, but last year the drug failed to hit targets in a Phase III trial in patients with colon cancer.