Novartis is extending late-stage trials of an investigational lung cancer drug licensed from the UK’s Antisoma to Japan.

Antisoma has revealed this morning that the Phase III ATTRACT-1 programme evaluating the drug, ASA404, as a first-line treatment for non-small cell lung cancer, was now enrolling patients in Japan. Extension of the trial follows the successful completion of a Phase I study evaluating the drug’s safety in Japanese lung cancer patients.

Late-stage trials of ASA404, a tumour-vascular disrupting agent began in other countries in April 2008. Novartis secured the rights to the drug a year earlier in a deal that could bring in up to $890 million for Antisoma.

The Swiss major is conducting a Phase III trial of ASA404 as a second-line treatment for NSCLC and plans to evaluate the drug in patients with metastatic breast cancer. The news had sent Antisoma’s share price up 4.8% to over 27 pence at 9.30 this morning.

SkyePharma files Flutiform with FDA
Another UK firm enjoying good news is SkyePharma, which has submitted its asthma combination drug Flutiform (fluticasone and formoterol) for approval with the US Food and Drug Administration. Chief executive Ken Cunningham said that the filing was "a major milestone" for the London-headquartered company and analysts believe that Flutiform could be a $500 million-a-year product.

SykePharma will receive a $2 million milestone payment from partner Abbott Laboratories once the filing for Flutiform is officially accepted by the FDA, which should happen in the next couple of months. The firm is scheduled to receive a further $25 million on approval.