Despite perifosine's Phase III failure in colorectal cancer and a terminated partnership, Aeterna Zentaris Inc. thinks it's worth spending $2.5 million to get to interim Phase III data for the molecule in multiple myeloma. Aeterna's rationale for pursuing the blood cancer indication received support last month from publication of Phase I data from an investigator-led trial.

Perifosine is a small molecule that inhibits activation of protein kinase B (PKB; Akt) in the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway. In April, perifosine plus Roche's Xeloda capecitabine missed the primary endpoint of median overall survival vs. placebo plus Xeloda in the Phase III X-PECT trial in advanced metastatic colorectal cancer.