Golimumab (CNTO 148) – recently hailed by Schering-Plough chairman and CEO Fred Hassan as a significant component of the company’s turnaround plans – showed promising results in a study reported at the American College of Rheumatology in San Diego.

Golimumab is a fully human monoclonal antibody being developed as a therapy for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other immune-mediated inflammatory diseases.

Phase II findings reported at the ACR show that patients with rheumatoid arthritis who do not respond to methotrexate may have another option in golimumab. Subcutaneous injections of the biologic given at two or four week intervals effectively reduced signs and symptoms of RA and was generally well tolerated with no unexpected safety concerns.

“The results of this trial demonstrate the potential of CNTO 148 as another therapy for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis,” said Dr Jonathan Kay, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Director of Clinical Trials in the Rheumatology Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, and lead author on the study. “Through further investigation, we hope to advance our understanding of the safety and effectiveness of CNTO 148, thereby enhancing our insight into the treatment of this chronic and potentially crippling disease.”

Golimumab is a fully-human antibody that blocks tumour necrosis factor alfa, so will compete with other TNF inhibitors such as S-P's own Remicade (infliximab), Abbott Laboratories' Humira (adalimumab) and Amgen's Enbrel (etanercept) in the $5.5 billion dollar market for rheumatoid arthritis therapies.

Included in Schering-Plough’s 2005 results was a charge of $124 million, or 8 cents per share, related to an R&D payment to Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Centocor for exercising rights to develop and commercialize golimumab.

Source: Ian Mason at the ACR in San Diego, USA.