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Verona Pharma COPD drug improves lung function in phase 2 trial

Verona Pharma PLC's medicine ensifentrine improved lung function in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients during a mid-stage clinical trial, meeting the study's main goal.

Shares of Verona were down on the Nasdaq by about 6.1% to $4.15 as of 11:28 a.m. ET, but went up 13.47% to about £48 on the London Stock Exchange as of 11:12 a.m. ET.

Ensifentrine, a dry powder administered via inhaler, was tested against placebo in a phase 2 study that enrolled 35 patients with moderate-to-severe COPD.

COPD is a respiratory disease that has no cure and is characterized by damage to the airway and lungs. According to the World Health Organization, COPD is on track to become the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030.

Verona previously reported positive safety and efficacy data for ensifentrine in part one of the trial. The company has now announced in an Aug. 5 press release that the drug relaxed muscles in the lungs and widened the airways to improve breathing, meeting the study's main goal.

The trial also met secondary goals of statistically significant improvement in lung function over 12 hours during the therapy's seven-day treatment. According to Verona, ensifentrine was well-tolerated and exhibited a similar safety profile to placebo. Additional secondary trial goals included ensifentrine's effect on the body, time to show efficacy and amount of other symptom-relieving medication used during treatment periods, all of which the study met, Verona said.

Further data from the trial will be reported later in August, and CEO Jan-Anders Karlsson said Verona plans to seek a partner for the further development and commercialization of dry powder ensifentrine.

The drug is also being tested in a pressurized metered-dose inhaler formulation as well as a nebulized suspension formulation.

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