Galapagos moves third component of AbbVie-partnered CF therapy toward clinic

Galapagos CEO Onno van de Stolpe

Galapagos ($GLPG) has outlined how it plans to move forward in cystic fibrosis with AbbVie ($ABBV) in the wake of the shock collapse of the partners' rheumatoid arthritis collaboration. The plan is to advance the third component of a triple-combination therapy into the clinic next year, setting the partners up to trial a cocktail intended to hit multiple targets of relevance to cystic fibrosis.

GLPG2665, a compound designed to prevent misfolding of the CFTR protein, is seen by Galapagos as the final piece of its multifront attack on cystic fibrosis. The compound is set to enter Phase I next year--before which preclinical testing must be completed--but in the longer term its fate is tied to that of two other assets already in development at Galapagos, GLPG2222 and GLPG1837. GLPG2222, another drug to correct protein misfolding, is advancing down the pipeline just ahead of GLPG2665. A filing for a trial in healthy volunteers is pencilled in for before the end of the year.

The third component of the triple therapy, GLPG1837, is nearing the start of Phase II. GLPG1837 has a different role in the cocktail than GLPG2222 or GLPG2665. Galapagos sees GLPG1837 working to boost the activity of defective CFTR, potentially making it complementary to the misfolding-fixing function of the other two compounds. CEO Onno van de Stolpe is excited by the potential. "The race to bring a truly disease-modifying therapy to the vast majority of patients with [cystic fibrosis] has started, which is good news for the patients," van de Stolpe said in a statement.

Interest in the program, which AbbVie paid $45 million (€39 million) to buy into in 2013, has been high for some time, but the changing dynamics of Galapagos' relationship to its Big Pharma partner in rheumatoid arthritis have added an extra layer. AbbVie reportedly gave Galapagos little advanced notice of its decision to turn from a partner into a rival in rheumatoid arthritis. Now, the companies must work together to move the cystic fibrosis program forward.

- read the release (PDF)