Shares in Celsion have nosedived after the group announced the failure of its key liver cancer therapy in a late-stage trial.

The company said that its experimental primary liver cancer treatment ThermoDox failed to achieve its primary target of boosting progression free survival, causing its stock to plummet more than 81% by late afternoon yesterday (Thursday) after a frenzy of trading.

Celsion said the Phase III HEAT Study "did not meet the goal of demonstrating persuasive evidence of clinical effectiveness that could form the basis for regulatory approval in the population chosen for study". 

Unsurprisingly, Michael Tardugno, the firm's president and chief executive, expressed disappointment on the finding.  

But he added that the group is currently considering whether to follow the patients already enrolled in the HEAT Study to the secondary endpoint, overall survival, and is conducting additional analyses of the data from the trial "in order to assess the future strategic value of ThermoDox".

ThermoDox is a proprietary heat-activated formulation of liposomal doxorubicin, which is an approved and frequently used therapy for a variety of cancers.