XOMA Corp. Goes Down Heavily As Main Drug Fails Challenge Print E-mail
By Josh Gee   
Thursday, 23 July 2015 19:01

XOMA Corp. (NASDAQ:XOMA) crashed down investor dreams. The Berkeley, CA-based biotech firm stated that Phase III study of gevokizumab in patients with Behçet's disease uveitis was unsuccessful.


The firm’s shares plummeted on the day by over 75% as the firm moved near the boundary of penny stock territory. Xoma partner Servier had looked after the trial ensuring enrolment of 83 patients (40 on gevokizumab and 43 on placebo).


Patients were randomly given 60-mg dose of gevokizumab or just a placebo administered subcutaneously in a month just once besides the existing therapies. The drug did not meet with success for the first endpoint: time to first acute ocular exacerbation.


The firm is not comfortable with the lead therapy. Gevokizumab did not succeed in Phase II program for erosive osteoarthritis of the hand more than a year back, ending any attempt for broad pivotal study in that indication. Even though investors were unhappy, the firm officials attempted to give a positive side on the news.


Paul Rubin, the senior VP of R&D and chief medical officer, opined that even though the study was unsuccessful in achieving the aim, there were signs of drug activity like preserved visual acuity, less severe ocular exacerbations as well as reduced incidence of reported macular edema in patients treated with gevokizumab.


He added that the firm shall be continuing to work closely with its partner Servier and uveitis experts would be conducting deep analysis of data for fully understanding gevokizumab's impact on several clinically relevant endpoints.


CEO John Varian also mentioned some other positives such as assets in the pipeline for making a case that the firm indeed had a future. Its experimental meds include XOMA 358 that is "active in down-regulating the insulin receptor," as well as preclinical program for XOMA 089, an anti-TGFβ monoclonal antibody.


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