ZymoGenetics and Merck Serono Initiate Phase 2/3 Clinical Trial of Atacicept in Lupus...
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ZymoGenetics and Merck Serono Initiate Phase 2/3 Clinical Trial of Atacicept in Lupus Nephritis Trial will Evaluate Safety and Efficacy of Atacicept in Lupus Nephritis and is Intended to Support Marketing Authorization NEW YORK--(Business Wire)--ZymoGenetics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZGEN) and Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, announced today the initiation of a Phase 2/3 clinical trial of atacicept in lupus nephritis, a severe form of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The kidneys are affected in at least 30% of the estimated 1.5 million people suffering from SLE worldwide. This study will evaluate the efficacy and safety of atacicept for the treatment of patients with active lupus nephritis. The trial is being conducted under a Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is intended to be used as part of a program to support a worldwide application for marketing authorization. "Lupus nephritis patients need better treatment options to help them maintain kidney function and avoid kidney failure," said Nicole Onetto, M.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer. "Based on its mechanism of action and our early clinical data in lupus, we believe that atacicept has the potential to reduce disease symptoms and may help patients improve kidney function." Anton Hoos, M.D., Merck Serono's Head of Global Development, added: "This study forms part of our ongoing development program with atacicept in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. It underscores Merck Serono's strong commitment to offering innovative treatment options to patients and their doctors in indications with unmet medical needs." The one-year (52 week), randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 2/3 clinical trial will enroll approximately 200 patients and will be conducted at approximately 80 sites in North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. The objective of the study is to evaluate the efficacy and safety of atacicept in patients with active lupus nephritis who are also receiving immunosuppressive therapy with mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) and corticosteroids. To be eligible to enroll in the trial, patients must have active lupus nephritis at the time of screening. The primary endpoint of the trial is the improvement in patients' renal function from baseline to week 52. About Atacicept Merck Serono and ZymoGenetics are developing atacicept (formerly referred to as TACI-Ig) as a potential treatment of autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), lupus nephritis, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, as well as B-cell malignancies. Atacicept, a recombinant fusion protein, contains the soluble TACI receptor that binds to the cytokines BLyS and APRIL. These cytokines are members of the tumor necrosis factor family that promote B-cell survival and autoantibody production associated with certain autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus. Current data indicates that levels of BLyS and APRIL are elevated in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, SLE and B-cell malignancies. Atacicept has been shown to affect several stages of B-cell development and may inhibit the survival of cells responsible for making antibodies. About Lupus nephritis Lupus nephritis is a complication of systemic lupus erythematosus and is characterized by inflammation of the kidneys. Patients with lupus nephritis typically have damage to the glomeruli and progressive loss of kidney function. In the United States, for example, SLE affects 1 person in 2,000, with higher rates among women and among individuals with African, Asian, and Hispanic genetic heritage. Published studies estimate that clinically significant renal involvement occurs in at least 30% of those with SLE. About ZymoGenetics ZymoGenetics creates novel protein drugs with the potential to significantly help patients fight their diseases. The Company is developing a diverse pipeline of product candidates that are moving into and through clinical development. These candidates span a wide array of clinical opportunities that include bleeding, autoimmune and viral diseases and cancer. ZymoGenetics intends to commercialize these product candidates through internal development, collaborations with partners, and out-licensing of patents from its extensive patent portfolio. For further information, visit www.zymogenetics.com. This press release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are based on the current intent and expectations of the management of ZymoGenetics. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict. ZymoGenetics' actual results and the timing and outcome of events may differ materially from those expressed in or implied by the forward-looking statements because of risks associated with our unproven discovery strategy, preclinical and clinical development, regulatory oversight, intellectual property claims and litigation and other risks detailed in the company's public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006. Except as required by law, ZymoGenetics undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking or other statements in this press release, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. ZymoGenetics, Inc. Investor and Media Relations: Susan W. Specht, MBA, 206-442-6592 Director, Corporate Communications Copyright Business Wire 2007
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