Why ZIOPHARM Oncology Shares Imploded

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of ZIOPHARM Oncology , a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing cancer-based therapies, were eviscerated today, falling as much as 66% after announcing a discontinuation to its late-stage metastatic soft tissue sarcoma trial with experimental drug, Palifosfamide.

So what: ZIOPHARM, in a press release this morning, noted that Palifosfamide failed to meet its primary endpoint of progression-free survival. Clearly, upon closer examination, Palifosfamide didn't fit the bill. The independent data monitoring committee suggested that ZIOPHARM follow up with patients to determine if Palifosfamide will improve overall survival and meet its secondary endpoint, but the company stomped out that possibility this morning by noting it's not planning any follow-ups. Instead, management plans to focus the company's efforts on its synthetic biology programs.

Now what: Yikes -- that's both a scientific and emotional observation! ZIOPHARM is in a world of hurt after this decision because it burned a considerable amount of its cash on developing Palifosfamide. ZIOPHARM had just $73.3 million in cash left as of its most recently filed quarter and, without the aid of secondary share offerings or job cuts, could run out of cash well before the end of 2014 by my estimates. Its synthetic biology program could eventually help its bottom line, but compared to late-stage Palifosfamide, it's all predominantly early and-mid-stage compounds. ZIOPHARM might seem like a bargain after today because of its cash value, but I'm not biting.

Craving more input? Start by adding ZIOPHARM Oncology to your free and personalized watchlist so you can keep up on the latest news with the company.

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Editor's note: A previous version of this article referred to meeting the necessary number of progression-free survival events that led to the data readout. This sentence has been removed for clarity.

The article Why ZIOPHARM Oncology Shares Imploded originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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