Equillium swaps multi-cytokine inhibitor for oral option after underwhelming phase 2 data

Equillium is dropping one IL15/21-targeting Celiac drug over underwhelming early data and replacing it in the pipeline with another multi-cytokine inhibitor.

The biotech had been developing EQ102, a bi-specific inhibitor of IL-15 and IL-21, in a phase 1 study for celiac disease. Data from the single ascending dose and multiple ascending dose portion of the study was due in the fourth quarter of this year, but the company revealed today that, while this data had “demonstrated pharmacodynamic activity … the bioavailability of this initial formulation was lower than expected.”

As a result, Equillium is looking to swap out EQ102 for EQ302, a peptide that also targets IL-15 and IL-21.

“We intend to transition away from further developing EQ102, to advance EQ302 towards the clinic for the potential treatment of patients with gastrointestinal and skin diseases,” the company explained.

While EQ302 has yet to make it into human trials, the company said that “preclinical and translational data have demonstrated that EQ302 has increased potency compared to EQ102, is both stable and permeable in the gut, and can be further modified for optimal systemic or gut-restricted activity.”

Unlike EQ102, which is administered subcutaneously, EQ302 has the added benefit of being taken orally, the company pointed out.

“Based on the superior product profile of EQ302 and the significant clinical and commercial advantages of orally delivered therapies in these disease settings, we believe advancing EQ302 is a better long-term strategy,” the biotech explained.

Equillium also used today’s release to announce that it had completed enrollment in its 36-patient phase 2 study of EQ101, an inhibitor of IL2, 9 and 15 in alopecia areata.

The company ended September with $46.3 million in cash and equivalents, which is expected to fund operations into 2025.