UPDATE 1-Basilea to continue late-stage antifungal study

* Panel backs isavuconazole Phase III trial continuation

* Company to resume patient recruitment H1 2010

* Says topline data expected to be available in 2011

* Shares rise 3.9 percent

(Adds detail, analyst comment, shares)

ZURICH, Jan 29 (BestGrowthStock) – Swiss biotechnology group Basilea
(BSLN.S: ) said it would resume recruitment of patients into a
late-stage trial of an antifungal treatment in the first half of
2010 after a U.S. safety panel recommended the study’s
continuation.

Topline data from the Phase III clinical trial of
isavuconazole for treatment of life-threatening invasive
Aspergillus mould infections should become available in 2011,
Basilea Pharmaceutica AG said on Friday.

The Independent Data Safety Monitoring Board recommended the
late-stage trial should continue after analysis showed
isavuconazole was not inferior to the current standard of care,
Pfizer’s (PFE.N: ) voriconazole.

“Overall, the continuation of the Phase III programme for
isavuconazole is good news. Voriconazole has a good efficacy
profile with more than 70 percent survival after 12 weeks,” said
Vontobel analyst Andrew Weiss.

Shares in Basilea traded up 3.9 percent at 0909 GMT,
outperforming a near flat DJ Stoxx European healthcare index.
(.SXDP: )

Invasive fungal infections, mainly caused by species of
Candida and Aspergillus fungi, cause high mortality rates,
particularly for cancer or transplant patients with compromised
immune systems, meaning patients have to be treated at the
earliest possible stage with the most effective treatment.

“Regular assessments of safety parameters by the IDSMB have
not revealed any major or unexpected safety concerns. With
numerous differentiating features over current therapies,
isavuconazole has the potential for a best-in-class antifungal,”
said Basilea CEO Anthony Man.

Two more Phase III trials are investigating isavuconazole’s
potential as a treatment for yeast infections and rare moulds.

Basilea is also seeking approval in the European Union and
United States for ceftobiprole, a broad-spectrum antibiotic to
fight hospital superbugs, with U.S. partner Johnson & Johnson
(JNJ.N: ).

“(The) Key short-term trigger remains the EU panel decision
on ceftobiprole due in the first quarter of 2010,” said analysts
at Julius Baer in a note.

Stock Trading

(Reporting by Jason Rhodes; Editing by David Holmes)

UPDATE 1-Basilea to continue late-stage antifungal study