The results were reported by the Swiss-based company Serono that produces this drug in their Israel-based subsidiary Interpharm Laboratories. Interpharm was founded by Serono 25 years ago for the application of Weizmann Institute discoveries for therapy.
The drug, called Onercept, or r-hTBP-1, caused significant improvement in the patients' Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) score. PASI is the globally accepted measure of treatment efficacy in this indication. After 12 weeks of therapy, 54% of patients receiving Onercept demonstrated 75% or greater PASI score improvement. Only 12% of patients on placebo exhibited the same level of improvement. In addition, 74% of patients treated with Onercept achieved 50% or greater PASI score improvement, versus 26% in the placebo group.
Over the 12-week treatment period patients treated with onercept experienced a significant improvement in quality of life, based on the standard measurements of Short Form 36 (SF-36) and Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI).
As a result of this positive outcome, Serono plans to initiate Phase III trials in psoriasis with onercept later this year.
The drug works by neutralizing a hormone called "tumor necrosis factor" (TNF), which is produced by the immune system in response to injury or infection. In various inflammatory diseases, TNF production becomes excessive, leading to the destruction of healthy tissue. In search for natural inhibitors of TNF,
Contact: Alex Smith
American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science