Immunomedics (NASDAQ:IMMU) has become the second biopharmaceutical company in recent weeks to announce a successful trial of its lupus drug. The company’s lupus medication, epratuzumab, showed a 24.9% advantage over a placebo in a 12-week Phase IIb clinical trial. Shares in Immunomedics jumped 57 percent to its highest level in 5 years following the announcement.
Five weeks ago, Human Genome Sciences (HGSI) became the first company to report positive Phase III data against lupus. The clinical success of its drug, Benlysta, caused shares in HGS to rise 277 percent in July. Shares in HGS dipped slightly following the announcement of Immunomedics’ results. It has recently been rumored that HGS will be bought out by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), HGS’s partner in developing Benlysta. Both Benlysta and epretuzumab work by targeting the cell activity that leads to lupus.
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, an estimated 1.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from lupus. The disease hasn’t received a new treatment in 50 years. Companies developing treatments for lupus include ZymoGenetics, Genelabs Technologies, Watson Pharmaceuticals, and VLST Corporation.