Following reports earlier in the week of a high-profile, late-stage Alzheimer's trial failure, Eli Lilly has announced that final Phase III clinical trials did not meet the goals of increasing survival for lymphoma sufferers.

The drug, enzastaurin, was being tested for patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and showed no difference compared to placebo in studies. Patients involved in the study had previously been treated with rituximab and were at high risk of relapsing. The overall survival rate for DLBCL stands at 58 percent at five years.

"We are disappointed in the results that we're announcing today," said Richard Gaynor, M.D., vice president of product development and medical affairs for Lilly Oncology. "However, our oncology pipeline is still one of the most robust across the industry containing more than 20 molecules, including two Phase III molecules in five different tumor types."

Enzastaurin is a small molecule pharmaceutical that inhibits protein kinase C beta, an enzyme that is involved in the induction of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF is released by various cancers to increase blood vessel growth and supply solid tumors with more nutrients for growth and metastasis.

Eli Lilly has said that it will discontinue clinical trials and development of the drug. The National Cancer Institute is still pursuing clinical trials of enzastaurin and is involved in a Phase II trials for glioma, a type of solid brain tumor that has few treatment options. Because solid tumors rely on blood vessel growth, the results may be more successful than with a blood cancer such as lymphoma.