- Verona Pharma says it expects to report a pre-tax loss of approximately GBP8.9m for the year ended 31 December 2015 (2014:GBP2.8m), broadly in line with market expectations, reflecting tight cost control despite the planned increase in R&D spend, especially on clinical studies.

Other highlights include:

Initiation and successful completion of a Single Ascending Dose (SAD) and Multiple Ascending Dose (MAD) Phase I/II trial in 112 healthy volunteers and COPD patients using the new suspension formulation of RPL554

Initiation and successful completion of a dose-finding Phase IIa study in 29 patients with chronic persistent asthma in comparison to salbutamol and placebo1

Initiation and end of clinical stage of Phase IIa study in 30 COPD patients in which RPL554 was administered on top of standard of care bronchodilators; results expected in Q2 2016

Board of Directors strengthened by appointment of Dr Anders Ullman and Dr Ken Cunningham, two physicians highly experienced in the development of respiratory medicines

Cash balance (unaudited) at 31 December 2015 was GBP3.5 million (2014: GBP10.0); Clinical activity is expected to be at a lower level in 2016 than in 2015 as the Company plans the next tranche of clinical studies. Thus the Board believes the Company has sufficient capital to progress RPL554 to the start of Phase IIb clinical trials, earmarked to begin around the end of 2016.

Commenting on progress, CEO Jan-Anders Karlsson said:

"At the time of our 2014 fund raise we laid out our plans for further development of RPL554, initially to address severe COPD. Based on the strength of the emerging clinical data, we decided in early 2015 to accelerate this development plan.

"To date almost 300 subjects have been included in clinical trials with RPL554. Collectively these data consistently highlight that the drug is an effective bronchodilator and has a broad anti-inflammatory profile. Importantly, it is well-tolerated over a wide dose range and adverse events are similar to those in subjects treated with placebo.

"Having made marked clinical progress with RPL554, we are currently considering all options for further funding of our development programmes. As part of this process, and as previously stated, the Company recognises that the right commercial partner could bring significant value to the development of RPL554 for chronic maintenance treatment in COPD and perhaps asthma. Verona Pharma therefore continues to be involved in business development discussions around the RPL554 programme."

At 11:30am: [LON:VRP] Verona Pharma PLC share price was -0.28p at 3.38p

Story provided by