GlaxoSmithKline Hits Pause on Early Stage Experimental Inflammatory Drug

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GlaxoSmithKline’s (NYSE:GSK) partnership with Galapagos NV has come to a screeching halt after an experimental drug, GSK2586184, which is a proposed treatment for lupus, didn’t deliver in Phase II trials. According to a FierceBiotech report, the drug failed to demonstrate a positive effect. As a result of the data, another exploratory Phase I/II trial for the same drug, this time to treat ulcerative colitis, was also put on hold.

The remaining study, which explores the drug as a treatment for psoriasis, is the only one of the three studies that was not put on hiatus. The top-line efficacy and safety results from that study are expected out sometime in the first half of 2014. Glaxo reports that the psoriasis study was designed to recruit “64 patients, with treatment up to 12 weeks.”

The experimental drug, currently known as GSK2586184, is a JAK1 inhibitor that Glaxo has trumpeted as an innovative new approach to treating inflammatory diseases. JAK inhibitors are drugs that work by inhibiting the activity of one or several of the Janus kinase enzymes; a JAK1 inhibitor indicates that the drug acts on the JAK1 enzyme in particular.

Janus kinase inhibitors have a therapeutic application as a treatment for cancers and inflammatory diseases, according to a company press release.

A similar medicine to Glaxo’s experimental GSK2586184 is currently being developed as part of a partnership between Incyte and Eli Lilly & Co. Their product is a late-stage JAK1/2 inhibitor that is being evaluated as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune diseases, FierceBiotech reports.

This isn’t the first time Glaxo has quickly shut down trials of an experimental drug that didn’t perform to its standards. Late last year, the company shuttered a late-stage effort in collaboration with ChemoCentryx on its leading drug, vercirnon. Glaxo returned the rights to the drug after the first of its Phase III studies proved unsuccessful.

GlaxoSmithKline’s partnership with Galapagos NV is 7 years old, having begun when Glaxo signed a discovery and development deal with the company that contained more than $300 million in milestones.

Galapagos NV currently has a variety of partnerships with larger pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline; the company currently also has collaborations with AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson. The company formerly had deals with Roche and Merck, but both of those companies left their respective partnerships with Galapagos.