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Verona Pharma reports positive results from COPD trial of its lead drug


Biotech junior Verona Pharma (LON:VRP) said the pilot study showed that its RPL554 drug caused a significant improvement in lung function of patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

During the Phase IIa trial, RPL554 produced an increase of 10 percent in forced expiratory volume at one second (FEV1), a standard method used to evaluate the bronchodilator effects of drugs, as compared with placebo.

In addition, the duration of action observed was similar to that previously seen with RPL554 in patients with asthma.

The company also reported that it is currently involved in discussions to license the drug, expecting to make a further announcement “when appropriate”, which, however, is not expected imminently.

“Completion of this trial concludes a busy year for the company in which we have successfully demonstrated the bronchodilator effects of RPL554 in asthma, and now COPD patients. Both diseases are multi-billion dollar markets that have a need for new drugs,” said chief executive of Verona Pharma Michael Walker.

Verona added that the drug was well tolerated with no cardiovascular or other safety issues observed despite the fact that concurrent cardiovascular disease is common in COPD.

The study, which was the first trial with RPL554 in patients with COPD, will now be expanded to incorporate more patients to provide further safety data for the ongoing development of RPL554 as a treatment for COPD and other respiratory diseases.

Verona added that it also wants to demonstrate the drug's anti-inflammatory actions. If successful in such trials, RPL554 would be the first drug to have combined bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory actions, giving it an edge over current available drug treatments.

Shares in Verona traded at 7.38 pence this morning, down 3.5 percent from Wednesday’s close. The company currently has a market cap of £17.85 million.

Quick facts: Verona Pharma

Price: 46.1 GBX

Market: AIM
Market Cap: £49.09 m

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