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UPDATE - Verona Pharma making significant headway

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Researchers already know RPL554 is well tolerated, and they have been able to increase the safe dose to 16 times higher than previously used.

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Annual results from Verona Pharma (LON:VRP) reflected a year of progress for the Cardiff-based biotech and its drug candidate, RPL554, being developed to treat the effects of lung disease.

The most important financial landmark was last March’s successful £14mln fundraiser to bankroll its lead compound.

Researchers already know RPL554 is well tolerated, and they have been able to increase the safe dose to significantly.

They have also begun a phase I/II study and interim data has revealed the latest formulation could be administered twice daily. 

The full results of the trial are expected later this year.

RPL554 is unique in that it is both a bronchodilator, which makes breathing easier by relaxing muscles in the lung, and it has anti-inflammatory properties.

Currently, it is being developed to treat a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a collection of ailments usually linked with smoking.

However Verona is also exploring RPL554’s potential use in cystic fibrosis.

“We remain confident that with multiple potential applications, each representing an attractive commercial opportunity, RPL554 has the potential to generate significant value for shareholders," chief executive Jan-Anders Karlsson told investors.

Unsurprisingly for a company at this formative stage of its development, Verona posted a loss (the shortfall £2.76mln). The cash outflow was £3.83mln, up from £2.34mln previous and reflecting the ramp up in activity.

The shares, up 180% in the year to date, marked time at 3.38p, valuing the business at £34mln.

“We believe the potential strategic value of Verona Pharma and RPL554 could generate attractive returns to shareholders,” said Sheena Berry, at City broker at N+1 Singer.


Quick facts: Verona Pharma

Price: 38.5 GBX

AIM:VRP
Market: AIM
Market Cap: £40.55 m
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