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BERKELEY, Calif., Dec. 31, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- XOMA Corporation (Nasdaq:XOMA), a leader in the discovery and development of therapeutic antibodies, today announced it has selected active non-infectious anterior scleritis, which is the inflammation of the sclera (the fibrous white membrane surrounding the eyeball excluding the cornea), as the third indication in XOMA's gevokizumab proof-of-concept program. The Company is working with the National Eye Institute ("NEI"), one of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, on designing the protocol for this study.
"Both non-infectious scleritis and non-infectious uveitis have been associated with interleukin-1 beta. As we narrowed our potential therapeutic targets for inclusion in our POC program, we felt there was a strong rationale to conduct one of the studies in a second ocular indication, particularly one that is treated by the same physician specialist as the NIU patient population," stated Paul Rubin, Senior Vice President of Research and Development and Chief Medical Officer of XOMA.
About Gevokizumab and Interleukin-1 Inhibition
Gevokizumab (XOMA 052) is a potent monoclonal antibody with the potential to treat patients with a wide variety of inflammatory and other diseases. Gevokizumab binds strongly to interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta), a pro-inflammatory cytokine that has been shown to be involved in non-infectious uveitis, including Behçet's uveitis, cardiovascular disease, and other auto-inflammatory diseases. By binding to IL-1 beta, gevokizumab inhibits the activation of the IL-1 receptor, thereby modulating the cellular signaling events that produce inflammation.
Gevokizumab has been studied in nearly 500 patients, with approximately 300 patients on treatment for six months, and has been shown to be well-tolerated. As previously reported, in a proof-of-concept Phase 2 trial of gevokizumab in Behçet's uveitis, all seven patients displayed rapid reduction of intraocular inflammation and improvement in visual acuity or other ophthalmic measures after a single treatment and following discontinuation of immunosuppressive drugs such as cyclosporine and/or azathioprine. Five of the patients were retreated with gevokizumab due to a recurring uveitis exacerbation and all responded again to treatment.