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Shares of biotech company Juno Therapeutics fell nearly 8 per cent on Wednesday after it formally pulled the plug on development of a prospective cancer treatment following five patient deaths.

Last June, Juno suspended the study – known as the Rocket trial – after three young patients died. The trial was later restarted and then halted a few months later following two more patients’ deaths.

It said on Wednesday that it had decided not to move forward with the trial or development of the drug, known as JCAR015 “at this time, even though it generated important learnings for us and the immunotherapy field.”

The company said it is still “optimistic” about the progress it is making with other prospects in its pipeline. “We expect 2017 will be a data-rich year of key insights, based on up to 20 ongoing trials by year end, and we plan to present data from these trials as appropriate throughout the year,” chief executive Hans Bishop said in a statement.

Juno on Wednesday also unveiled results for the quarter ending December 31, reporting a loss of $52.8m, or 51 cents a share — less severe than the $65.8m loss, or 63 cents a share, that analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had expected. Revenue came in at $21.2m, versus expectations of $13.3m

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