BERKELEY, Calif., April 10, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- XOMA Corporation (Nasdaq:XOMA), a leader in the discovery and development of therapeutic antibodies, today announced the National Eye Institute ("NEI"), one of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, has opened its non-infectious, active, anterior scleritis trial for patient enrollment. The open-label single-arm Phase 1/2 study is designed to assess the safety and potential efficacy of gevokizumab in patients experiencing non-infectious, active, anterior scleritis, which is the inflammation of the sclera (the fibrous white membrane surrounding the eyeball excluding the cornea). This is XOMA's third indication in a program of three proof-of-concept ("POC") studies for gevokizumab. "The NEI is recognized globally for its dedication to improving ocular health, and it has access to patients most in need of potential new therapeutic options," stated Paul Rubin, Senior Vice President of Research and Development and Chief Medical Officer of XOMA. "We are delighted the NEI team has chosen to study the effect of gevokizumab in these patients." The NEI is expected to enroll 10 non-infectious active anterior scleritis patients with scleral inflammatory grade of ≥ 1-plus in at least one eye using a standardized photographic scleritis grading system developed at NEI. All patients will receive 60 mg of gevokizumab dosed every four weeks for a 16-week period. Patients who respond will have the option to continue treatment for an additional 20 weeks. Responders in the study are defined as patients who experience a 2-step reduction on a five point scale from 0 to 4 or reach Grade 0 in scleral inflammation in the study eye. Secondary measurements will include changes in visual acuity, changes in intraocular pressure and changes in scleral grading. Safety will be monitored throughout the trial. About Gevokizumab and Interleukin-1 Inhibition Gevokizumab is a potent monoclonal antibody with unique allosteric modulating properties and 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 over 500 patients, with approximately 300 patients on treatment for six months, and has been shown to be well-tolerated. Information about gevokizumab clinical studies can be found at www.clinicaltrials.gov . About Scleritis Scleritis involves inflammation and swelling of the scleral and episcleral tissues, the fibrous white membrane that surrounds the eyeball excluding the cornea. Scleritis is classified as anterior or posterior and is subdivided further into diffuse, nodular and necrotizing scleritis with or without inflammation (scleromalacia perforans). Anterior scleritis is the most common form (80-85%) with the diffuse and nodular variants occurring almost equally, and it disproportionately impacts women between the ages of 40 and 60 who may have an underlying systemic inflammatory condition. Scleritis is associated with severe pain and it can lead to ocular complications including keratitis, uveitis, and glaucoma, and if left untreated it may cause vision loss.