SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Jan. 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Rigel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: RIGL) today announced that James M. Gower, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, will present updated product development plans and a financial update at the upcoming 32 nd Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco on Thursday, January 16th at 9:00 a.m. PT (see webcast details below). Information will be included about two fostamatinib clinical programs commencing in the first half of the year, a Phase 3 clinical study in patients with immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) and a Phase 2 clinical study aimed at treating IgA nephropathy. Additionally, Rigel announced that it has earned a milestone payment of $5.75 million from AstraZeneca for the continued development of R256 in asthma. "Rigel has four proprietary projects starting clinical studies in the next few months, including our Phase 3 program with fostamatinib in ITP, and we expect results from our Phase 2 study with R348 in dry eye later this year," said Mr. Gower. "Our scientific strength gives breadth to our pipeline and 2014 will be another busy year as we aim to develop treatments for patients who in some indications have few therapeutic options." Information about some of the programs Rigel will discuss at the Conference follows. FostamatinibIn the past several years, Rigel has amassed a significant amount of data on the mechanism of action, tolerability, safety and efficacy of fostamatinib, its proprietary oral SYK inhibitor. In September 2013, the company announced that it would evaluate this drug candidate in patients with ITP, an autoimmune disease of the blood, which affects an estimated 100,000 Americans. Results of Rigel's Phase 2 clinical study, published in Blood(volume 113, number 14), showed that fostamatinib significantly increased the platelet counts of patients including some who had failed currently available TPO agents and may offer a treatment approach that targets the underlying cause of this disease. Rigel plans to commence a Phase 3 study in this patient population in the first half of the year. Immunoglobulin A Nephropathy (IgAN) is an autoimmune disease that severely affects the functioning of the kidneys. An estimated 12,000 Americans are diagnosed with this type of glomerulonephritis each year, with 25% of its victims eventually requiring dialysis and/or kidney transplantation over time. IgAN is characterized by the deposition of IgA immune complexes in the glomeruli of the kidneys leading to an inflammatory response and subsequent tissue damage that ultimately disrupts the normal filtering function of the kidneys. By inhibiting SYK in kidney cells, fostamatinib may block the signaling of IgA immune complex receptors and arrest or slow destruction of the glomeruli. Rigel expects to enter a Phase 2 study of fostamatinib in patients with IgA nephropathy in the spring of 2014.