The global biopharmaceutical company, AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) today announced the results from two Phase 2 clinical trials evaluating its investigational selective JAK1 inhibitor, ABT-494.  It improved symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in mid-stage studies and scrapped plans to buy rights to a similar treatment from Belgium’s Galapagos NV.

BALANCE-I enrolled 276 patients, approximately 30 percent of whom had an inadequate response to two or more anti- tumor necrosis factor (TNF) agents. 20 percent had an inadequate response to treatment with a non-TNF biologic. The clinical trials, BALANCE-I and BALANCE-II, achieved a 20 percent improvement on the criteria of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR20) at week 12 across all dose levels, except the lowest dose in BALANCE-II.

While the common teaching is of rheumatoid arthritis as a symmetric process, asymmetric involvement can be seen in about 15% of cases. The tendency is toward symmetrization with time. Credits: Roentgen Ray Reader.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition where the body’s immune system attacks the body tissues, which then results in the swelling and stiffness of joints, accompanied with pain.

“We believe ABT-494 has the potential to become a best-in-class therapy, particularly in the most challenging patient population of TNF-inadequate responders […] we are encouraged by the results of our Phase 2 studies and we will advance ABT-494 to Phase 3 studies with a once-daily formulation” said Michael Severino, M.D., Executive Vice President, Research & Development and Chief Scientific Officer of AbbVie, as reported by MarketWatch

Galapagos is attempting to partner filgotinib and now is in discussions with a large number of pharmaceutical companies to reach a deal. ABT-494 and filgotinib are members of a brand new class of medicines that block an inflammation-causing enzyme often known as JAK1. It has been touted as a tempting takeover target for companies such as AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson.

The positive results from this trial and the company’s decision to move ABT-494 quickly into phase 3 could mean that it is better positioned to maintain its market share. Even so, as reported by PR Newswire the tiny company said it was already in talks with more than a half dozen other potential partners and would advance filgotinib into late-stage studies.

Source: Market Watch