Amgen Inc. and partner Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. said they plan to resume a late-stage clinical trial for their experimental lung cancer drug, but on the recommendation of an independent monitor only a smaller patient group will be studied.

The trial was suspended in November after a scheduled safety review showed more deaths with the drug than with a placebo. The drug, called motesanib, seeks to block a protein involved in the growth of blood vessels that feed tumors. The study now will be limited to patients with non-squamous cell type cancer, a subset of what is known as non-small cell cancer, said Amgen of Thousand Oaks and Takeda of Japan in a statement issued late Wednesday.

"This decision gives us confidence we have selected the right patient population to explore the clinical potential of motesanib in non-small cell lung cancer," said Roger Perlmutter, Amgen's executive vice president of research and development.

Amgen last year sold its Japanese unit to Takeda, Japan's largest drug maker, and agreed to co-develop motesanib.

Amgen shares were down 21 cents, or less than 1 percent, to $57.80 in morning trading on the Nasdaq.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.