The German company InflaRx has seen its shares on the Nasdaq plummet after announcing that its treatment for an inflammatory skin disease failed to beat the placebo in a phase IIb trial.
The trial had enrolled 179 patients with hidradenitis suppurativa, an incurable condition causing painful lumps on the skin. By the 16th week of treatment, the drug had improved symptoms in up to 51.5% of the patients, while 47.1% of patients in the placebo group had improved symptoms. The difference was not statistically significant, and the dose of the drug didn’t have any effect on the outcome.
Hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic disease that lasts for life and can be difficult to manage. InflaRx’s failed antibody was designed to block a key protein in the inflammation process while still leaving the body able to fight infections.
InflaRx noted that the placebo group in the trial showed an unusually big improvement in disease outcome. To get a better handle on what happened, the company is analyzing the trial data in more detail, and monitoring the patients in a 28-week trial extension.
The failed trial led to a dramatic fall in InflaRx’s share price of almost 90% after market open yesterday, which has remained low since. One reason for this loss in investor confidence could be that the majority of InflaRx’s pipeline is centered around this first-in-class antibody, with little evidence to suggest that it won’t fail in other conditions too.
Up until now, InflaRx had been impressing investors with its approach, raising €121M ($136M) in a Series D round and a Nasdaq IPO, both in 2017.
With this unfortunate setback for InflaRx, time will tell if the same antibody will work against the inflammatory diseases ANCA-associated vasculitis and pyoderma gangrenosum, which the company is targeting in phase II trials.
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