An experimental therapy being developed by AbbVie for paediatric patients with Crohn's disease has been awarded Orphan Drug status in the US.

Crohn's disease is an incurable chronic, inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract that can cause diarrhoea, abdominal pain and weight loss, and a delay in growth and sexual maturation in children living with the disease.

Risankizumab works be selectively blocking interleukin-23 (IL-23) - a key signalling agent that has been linked to a number of chronic immune-mediated diseases, including Crohn's.

The drug, to which AbbVie bought rights to from Boehringer Ingelheim earlier this year, is also being investigated in other immunological disorders, such as psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and asthma.

Under the terms of a deal, AbbVie is solely responsible for commercialisation of the anti-IL-23 antibody, while Boehringer has retained an option to co-promote the compound in asthma.

Risankizumab has not yet been approved for any indication anywhere in the world.