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Verona Pharma reports positive results from Phase II study of lead drug


Biotech junior Verona Pharma (LON:VRP) announced positive results from a further Phase II study of its lead drug RPL554 for the treatment of asthma, which broker Evolution said would boost its licensing package.

The study tested the duration of the drug’s bronchodilator action, which increases airflow to the lungs, by administering repeated doses of the drug to patients with mild asthma. Twelve patients were treated with daily doses of RPL554 for six days.

The trial successfully demonstrated that RPL554 had sustained bronchodilator actions throughout the treatment period with no accumulation of the drug in plasma. No safety issues were observed apart from a minor increase in heart rate at the last day of treatment.

“The clinical studies performed so far with RPL554 have defined the actions of our drug in terms of doses that are safe and produce a clear and unequivocal bronchodilator effect,” said chief executive of Verona Pharma Michael Walker.

“This bronchodilator effect is of value in the treatment of asthma, and possibly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).”

Verona is now planning another trial to test the drug’s anti-inflammatory effects, expecting it to start later this year.

Should the next trial be successful, RPL554 will become the first of a new class of drugs that treat both asthma and COPD, which Verona called “common diseases with significant markets that are in need of new drugs”.

In the meantime, Verona continues its effort to license RPL554.

Broker Evolution welcomed the update, saying that the trial results have bolstered the RPL554 licensing package.

“While important in its own right this result paves the way to design further supplemental clinical studies including one that will more definitively explore the drug’s anti-inflammatory effect,” said EVO analyst Simon Conway.

Conway currently rates Verona as a “buy” with a target price of 30 pence, a significant premium to the stock’s current price of 8.75 pence. Verona has a market cap of £21 million.

Quick facts: Verona Pharma

Price: 46.5 GBX

Market: AIM
Market Cap: £49.54 m

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