CombinatoRx Pulls the Plug on Arthritis Drug

Kendall Square-based CombinatoRx announced today that it is discontinuing development of CRx-150 after the drug candidate targeting rheumatoid arthritis performed poorly in a Phase 2 clinical trial. A combination of the antidepressant amoxapine and the cardiovascular drug dipyridamole, CRx-150 did offer some pain-control benefit compared to placebo, the company said, but failed to meet clinical and biomarker targets. All the funding currently devoted to the program will be rolled over into other pipeline programs.

With today’s announcement, CombinatoRx has reached something of a milestone. The company (which was founded in 2000 by Alexis Borisy, who is incidentally an Xconomist) now has Phase 2 data for all seven drugs in the first wave of candidates in its pipeline. Of the seven, two have been killed outright, four have produced mixed results, and one—another arthritis drug called CRx-102—has shown “spectacular” results across all of its testing, says Borisy, CombinatoRx’s president and CEO.

Borisy promises to reveal more about CRx-102, which he says “is on track and on schedule on all parameters” at the company’s “R&D day” next month. And he says that in the big picture, the CRx-150 results are actually quite encouraging, in that they show there is “something interesting going on” in the synergy between the antidepressant and the cardiovascular drug that does produce a clinical effect on pain. Though none of the other drugs currently in the pipeline share that type of combination (all of CombinatoRx’s drugs are combination preparations—hence the company’s name) Borisy seemed to hint that a triple combination of an antidepressant a cardiovascular drug, and a corticosteroid could be in the offing.

CombinatoRx’s stock was up $0.07 at the end of the day, at $6.10.

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