- Associated Press - Monday, December 13, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Eli Lilly and co. said Monday that it suspended a late-stage study of tasisulam as a potential skin cancer treatment because of safety concerns, but the company will continue ongoing studies in other types of cancer.

The company did not disclose the specific safety issues involved in the suspension. Researchers are analyzing the data in the study on metastatic melanoma patients. The condition is the deadliest form of skin cancer.

“We are thoroughly reviewing the clinical trial data to understand what modifications to the study protocol or dosing would be needed to improve patient safety on this trial,” said Dr. Richard Gaynor, vice president of oncology product development and medical affairs for Lilly, in a statement.

The study focuses on tasisulam as a secondary treatment for patients whose melanoma has spread. It involves more than 300 patients in 18 countries.

Meanwhile, the company said it will continue to develop the drug as a potential treatment for breast, ovarian and other cancers, citing different dosing. The company said it is closely evaluating patient safety in those trials on an ongoing basis.

Shares of Eli Lilly rose 5 cents to $35.02 in after-hours trading after falling a penny to close at $34.97 during the regular trading session.