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Merck KGaA brain tumor drug fails clinical trial

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Merck KGaA's Cilengitide, an experimental drug to treat an aggressive type of brain tumor, has failed a large-scale clinical trial, dealing a blow to the German drugmaker's efforts to replenish its pipeline of medicines.

Merck said on Monday patients in a Phase III trial did not live significantly longer when treated with Cilengitide plus chemoradiotherapy.

Dr. Annalisa Jenkins, Head of Global Drug Development and Medical for the Merck Serono division, said the trial results were "disappointing, especially for people who are fighting this devastating and difficult to treat cancer".

For Merck, Germany's oldest drugmaker, the latest findings come after its experimental cancer vaccine Stimuvax failed in a Phase III trial last December.

In 2011, Merck's Cladribin, a treatment for multiple sclerosis, also failed.

Last month, Chief Executive Stefan Oschmann said in magazine interview that Merck needed a new drug every two years, with the focus on cancer, immune-deficiencies, multiple sclerosis and fertility.

At 0925 GMT, Merck shares were down 0.6 percent at 105 euros.

At the Phase III trial of Cilengitide, the patients had newly diagnosed Glioblastoma - a very aggressive brain tumor - and methylated MGMT gene promoter status.

Cilengitide is the first in a new class of investigational targeted anticancer therapies - so called integrin inhibitors - to have reached Phase III clinical development.

(Reporting by Marilyn Gerlach; Editing by Mark Potter)

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