Ensifentrine is an inhaled drug with a dual-action: it is both a bronchodilator - relaxes the lung muscles - and an anti-inflammatory.
The second part of a phase II study of Verona’s dry powder inhaler formulation met all of its primary and secondary lung function targets, or endpoints.
Meanwhile, a phase IIb study is currently underway for the nebulised version of ensifentrine with the read-out expected “around the end of the year”.
Preparations are already underway for what’s called an end of phase II meeting with the US regulator that would clear the path for a final-stage assessment of the medication in 2020.
Verona plans, initially at least, to focus on the nebulised treatment for more severe patients.
However, CEO Karlsson said the dry powder inhaler formulation results “support our view that ensifentrine is an effective bronchodilator in COPD patients, whether administered as a dry powder via a handheld inhaler or as a suspension via a nebuliser".
COPD is a progressive and life-threatening disease which the World Health Organisation predicts will be the third leading cause of death by 2030. In the US alone, the cost of treating COPD is expected to hit US$49bn next year.
“We believe ensifentrine, with its unique dual mode of action and bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory properties, has the potential to become an important additional treatment option for many of these patients,” said Karlsson.
He added that the “strong reduction” in COPD symptoms will be an “attractive feature” for many of these patients.
Alongside the CEO’s commentary on Verona’s clinical progress was an insight on its finances for the first nine months of the year.
For the period ended September 30, the company made a £33.7mln operating loss, reflecting the investment made in the clinic.
More importantly the drug developer’s financial position was strong with £41.1mln in the bank as at the end at the aforementioned date.