Philadelphia-based RNAi drug developer ZaBeCor Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has begun a phase II trial of its siRNA-based treatment for asthma after phase I testing showed the drug to be safe.
The agent, Excellair, is an siRNA targeting the intracellular kinase Syk that is delivered directly to the lung. Although the company had previously said that the drug could reach the clinic in 2007 (see RNAi News, 6/8/2006), it wasn’t until late 2008 that the company announced it had received US Food and Drug Administration clearance to do so (see RNAi News, 11/13/2008).
According to ZaBeCor, the phase I study enrolled asthma patients who received 21 consecutive daily doses of Excellair. No serious adverse effects were observed, and 75 percent of patients with asthma reported an “improved ability to breathe freely or reduced use of their rescue inhaler.” Those receiving placebo reported no improvement.
Specific details about the phase II clinical program were not disclosed. ZaBeCor officials did not return a request for comment.