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GSK hands back rights to ChemoCentryx drug

Investigational IBD treatment vercirnon disappoints in phase III

GSK GlaxoSmithKline house 

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has ducked out of its collaboration with US firm ChemoCentryx on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) drug vercirnon after disappointing results in a phase III trial.

GSK licensed rights to vercirnon (also known as Traficet-EN and CCX282) in 2010 as an extension to a wide-ranging deal with ChemoCentryx for four anti-inflammatory drugs.

That alliance dates back to a $63.5m upfront licensing deal signed in 2006 with potential milestones of up to $1.5bn, and was recently expanded with a second programme looking at treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

In August GSK reported that the first of four planned phase III trials of vercirnon failed to achieve an improved overall clinical response or an increase in clinical remission rates in patients with moderate-to-severe Crohn's disease.

The trial - called SHIELD-1 - looked at two doses of vercirnon compared to placebo in patients who still had Crohn's symptoms despite first-line treatment with tumour necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists.

The drug is an inhibitor of CCR9, a cytokine thought to be involved in the inflammatory process underpinning IBD.

ChemoCentryx is not giving up on vercirnon just yet, however, noting that another trial called PROTECT-1 showed that the drug was able to maintain remission in some Crohn's patients. The company's chief executive Thomas Schall said GSK's decision "confers to us many degrees of freedom in deciding this valuable asset's forward path".

GSK dropped another drug from the initial collaboration earlier this year, but is still working with ChemoCentryx on drugs targeting cytokines.

Two have reached the clinical trial stage, including a C5aR inhibitor called CCX168 for anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis and CCR1 inhibitor CCX354 for RA. GSK is due to deliver a verdict on its option on CCX168 by the end of the year, said Schall last month.

Priority review for melanoma combo
Meanwhile, GSK says its combination melanoma therapy - Tafinlar (dabrafenib) and Mekinist (trametinib) - has been granted priority review status by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The ruling sets up a possible approval for the new treatment in early January.  GSK filed for approval of the two drugs in combination in the EU in February. Both Tafinlar and Mekinist are already approved for melanoma on their own.

Article by
Phil Taylor

19th September 2013

From: Research

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