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OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (OGXI - Snapshot Report) recently announced the commencement of an investigator-sponsored phase II trial, Rainer, on its oncology candidate, apatorsen.

We note that OncoGenex is evaluating apatorsen (OGX-427) in combination with Celgene Corporation’s (CELG - Analyst Report) Abraxane and Gemzar in patients with previously untreated metastatic pancreatic cancer.

The randomized, placebo-controlled study will randomize 130 patients to receive either apatorsen or placebo in combination with Abraxane and Gemzar therapy. The primary end point is overall survival.

Other end points include progression-free survival (PFS), tumor response rates, safety, and tolerability among others.

OncoGenex estimates approximately 45,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the U.S. leading to approximately 38,500 deaths in 2013. Hence, a positive result from the trial will be a significant step forward for OncoGenex to come up with a potential treatment option for pancreatic cancer.

Earlier in the month, OncoGenex initiated another phase II trial, Spruce, on apatorsen. OncoGenex is evaluating apatorsen for the treatment of previously untreated advanced non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The trials are part of the ORCA (Ongoing Studies Evaluating Treatment Resistance in CAncer) program.

We remind investors that the most advanced candidate in OncoGenex’s pipeline is custirsen (phase III) under evaluation for the treatment of metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer in men and also for the treatment of patients with advanced, unresectable non-small cell lung cancer.

OncoGenex has a global collaboration and license agreement with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA - Analyst Report) to develop and commercialize the candidate.

The successful development and commercialization of custirsen will be a major positive for OncoGenex. OncoGenex currently has no approved drug in its portfolio. We expect investor focus to remain on custirsen.

OncoGenex currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Right now, Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ - Analyst Report) looks attractive with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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