AstraZeneca’s share price remained flat on the London Stock Exchange this morning as investors gave a tempered response to mixed results from a late-stage study of its stroke drug Cerovive (NXY-059).

Although first data from the 1,700-patient SAINT I study demonstrated a significant reduction on the primary outcome of disability after acute ischaemic stroke, as measured by the Modified Rankin Scale, assessment via the National Institute of Health Stroke Scale found no significant difference in neurological impairment between the treatment and placebo groups.

Stroke is a notoriously difficult therapy area, and is associated with a high compound attrition rate. However, AstraZeneca is remaining optimistic and says both the late-stage SAINT II and CHANT trials will continue as planned, with regulatory submissions forecast for the second half of 2006.

The rewards for an effective stroke treatment are likely to be significant, and AstraZeneca is banking on Cerovive’s success – particularly after setbacks to its once greatest hope, the clotbuster drug Exanta (ximelagatran) [[13/09/04a]]. Cerovive was licensed from US biotechnology firm Renovis [[28/05/03d]], and is believed to work by trapping free radicals.

“AstraZeneca is encouraged by these data as acute ischemic stroke is a condition for which an effective and well-tolerated treatment is urgently needed,” the firm said in its statement. “However, the full potential of Cerovive will only be clear after completion of the clinical development programme.”