UPDATE 2-Northwest Bio suspends patient screening in brain cancer trial

Fri Aug 21, 2015 4:07pm EDT
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(Adds comment from company statement, updates share price)

By Ransdell Pierson

Aug 21 (Reuters) - The chief executive officer of biotechnology company Northwest Biotherapeutics Inc said on Friday the company has temporarily stopped screening new patients for the late-stage trial of its experimental brain cancer drug.

CEO Linda Powers said in a telephone interview the company had halted the screening process just months before it had planned to complete patient recruitment for the seven-year-old study of the drug, DCVax-L.

The company said in a statement later on Friday that the trial is ongoing and enrolled patients are continuing to be treated, but that screening had been "temporarily suspended while the company submits certain information from the trial for regulatory review." It said over 300 patients have been recruited for the study, which has a total anticipated enrollment of 348 patients.

Screening is the process by which a company ensures that an individual seeking to enter a clinical trial meets eligibility requirements, such as age and not having had another cancer for the last five years.

The study, among patients with newly diagnosed brain cancer, is being conducted in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. Northwest Biotherapeutics said some social media comments have noted that the European trial database says there has been a "temporary halt" of the trial in Germany, but said that referred only to the temporary suspension of new screening.

"The key question is whether patients are able to continue treatment in their trial," Powers said. "And the answer is yes."

The company said it anticipates submitting the trial information for regulatory review within the next couple of weeks.   Continued...