Following the third set of disappointing Phase III results with British Biotech plc's marimastat oral matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor (MMPI), both patients in the company's ongoing trials as well as its shareholders may be wondering why additional resources - both human and financial - are being devoted to continued development of the compound. The reason is that researchers believe that MMPIs will work better in earlier-stage patients than in the late-stage patients for whom results have so far been available.

Thus British Biotech (LSE:BBG; BBIOY, Oxford, U.K.) is determined to see the results of four additional ongoing Phase III studies that are nearing completion, two of which- in small cell lung cancer - it believes represent patients more likely to respond to marimastat. Results are expected this year from both, as well as from Phase III studies of marimastat to treat glioblastoma and ovarian cancer.