UCB's dual inhibitor outshines AbbVie's Humira in phase 3 psoriasis test

UCB CEO Jean-Christophe Tellier
UCB CEO Jean-Christophe Tellier (UCB Pharma)

UCB’s dual inhibitor is at again. The drug recently beat Johnson & Johnson’s Stelara at clearing psoriasis symptoms in a phase 3 study, and now it has bested AbbVie’s Humira, too. 

The 478-patient study found bimekizumab outdid Humira on two measures in adults with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, the company said in a statement. After 16 weeks of treatment, more patients who received UCB’s drug achieved a 90% reduction of psoriasis area and severity and clear or almost clear skin as measured by the Investigator Global Assessment score, a visual assessment of psoriasis. 

In addition to meeting its co-primary endpoints, bimekizumab also beat Humira at clearing patients’ skin completely—more patients on UCB’s drug had a 100% reduction in psoriasis area and severity. 

RELATED: Novartis' Cosentyx can't top AbbVie's Humira in head-to-head psoriatic arthritis contest 

The company is yet to share the numbers behind these comparisons, but the outlook so far is positive. The trial turned up safety results that are consistent with earlier clinical studies, including the phase 3 comparison with Stelara and a phase 2b study in which no patients suffered serious side effects linked to the drug. UCB plans to present the full data at a scientific meeting next year. 

While Humira inhibits TNF to tamp down on inflammation, bimekizumab and Stelara block inflammation-related interleukins—the latter targets IL-17A and IL-17F and the latter IL-12 and IL-23. 

RELATED: UCB's dual inhibitor beats J&J's Stelara in psoriasis phase 3 

"Active-controlled trials are a key way to inform our clinical understanding and decision making in psoriasis. The results of BE SURE confirmed the superiority of bimekizumab to a widely used TNF inhibitor in psoriasis and further demonstrated the important role of selectively targeting IL-17A and IL-17F," said the study’s lead investigator, Kristian Reich, M.D., Ph.D., of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf and Skinflammation Center in Germany, in the statement. 

The study is the latest in a series of tests comparing UCB’s prospect against other drugs in the psoriasis field. If bimekizumab can outshine Novartis’ blockbuster Cosentyx—which only blocks IL-17A—it may just have a leg up in the psoriasis market. 

UCB is also testing bimekizumab in psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis.

Editor's note: The use of "bispecific antibody" in this story has been changed to "dual inhibitor" to better reflect bimekizumab's mechanism of action.