Galapagos' bowel drug misses the mark in Phase II

Galapagos CEO Onno van de Stolpe

Belgian biotech Galapagos ($GLPG) is shutting down an ulcerative colitis program after its top prospect failed to make a difference in a Phase II trial, putting off plans for late-stage development as the company weighs whether to move forward in another disease.

The drug, GLPG1205, missed its goals in a 64-patient trial, failing to improve symptoms of ulcerative colitis compared against placebo. GLPG1205 proved to be safe and well-tolerated in the study, Galapagos said, and the company plans to release full data from the trial later this year.

Galapagos is now discontinuing development of GLPG1205 in ulcerative colitis. But the oral treatment, which targets the inflammation-related protein GPR84, could have potential in other indications, the company said.

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) bailed on GLPG1205 back in 2014, backing out of a collaboration that began with a nearly $1 billion deal signed in 2007.

Galapagos is getting back on track after a September setback in which partner AbbVie ($ABBV) walked out on its lead drug on the eve of Phase III. The company since recruited Gilead Sciences ($GILD) to take its ex-collaborator's place in December, signing a $2 billion deal that will see its top prospect, the JAK1 inhibitor filgotinib, enter Phase III in rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease this year.

Beyond its lead drug, Galapagos has a wholly owned treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis slated for Phase II development in the first half and a trio of early-stage cystic fibrosis therapies partnered with AbbVie.

- read the statement