Shares in Alizyme have taken a battering on the news that the UK firm is discontinuing clinical development of renzapride, to treat constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome.

The Cambridge-based company said that patients in a Phase III study of renzapride in IBS-C showed “limited clinical improvement” compared with those in the placebo group and “the efficacy shown is not sufficient to justify further development”. Chief executive Tim McCarthy said that the firm was disappointed, seeing as “our Phase II clinical programme provided a strong basis for progressing to the Phase III development of this compound for the management of IBS”.

He added that although in the Phase III study, renzapride has demonstrated “some therapeutic benefit and was shown to be safe”, the lack of sufficiently compelling data means that “we will focus our resources on the other three products in our portfolio and on the commercialisation of these late-stage assets”.

The most important of these treatments is Alizyme's ant-obesity drug cetilistat, which is due to start Phase III trials, though analysts at Edison Investment Research have expressed concerns that a two-year search for a licensing partner has failed to come up with anything. Another major compound is Colal-Pred and the firm recently completed patient recruitment in a late-stage trial of the ulcerative colitis agent Colal-Pred. Headline results are now expected in June.