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XOMA Corporation (XOMA - Snapshot Report) recently announced that its partner, Les Laboratoires Servier, a French pharmaceutical company, has initiated an independent proof-of-concept (POC) clinical program on gevokizumab. The POC program will be evaluating the safety and efficacy of gevokizumab in several therapeutics areas.

XOMA has collaborated with privately held Servier for the development of gevokizumab, an interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) modulating antibody. XOMA and Servier are evaluating the use of gevokizumab in a number of indications including non-infectious uveitis (NIU) involving the intermediate and/or posterior portion of the eye and Behçet’s uveitis. The potential of the candidate to improve symptoms of pain, physical function and other abnormalities in patients suffering from erosive osteoarthritis of the hand is also being evaluated.

The first study under the POC program on gevokizumab will be in patients suffering from polymyositis/dermatomyositis.

We note that XOMA had initiated a similar POC program on gevokizumab in Nov 2011 for indications like moderate-to-severe inflammatory acne vulgaris, erosive inflammatory osteoarthritis of the hand, and non-anterior scleritis.

In Jan 2013, XOMA reported preliminary top-line data from a phase II POC study in the inflammatory acne indication. Preliminary results from the study showed that the 0.6mg/kg dose of gevokizumab demonstrated a significant reduction of 19 in mean inflammatory lesion count compared to a reduction of 13 in patients under the placebo group on day 42. The difference was maintained throughout the study.

 XOMA recently initiated a pilot study to evaluate the use of gevokizumab in patients suffering from acute inflammatory pyoderma gangrenosum (PG). XOMA intends to enrol up to 8 patients suffering from acute inflammatory PG for the study. Their disease is characterized by recently developed active ulcers apart from ulcer-related pain.

Gevokizumab is the lead candidate at XOMA. The company has progressed well so far with the candidate. We expect investor focus to stay on gevokizumab going forward.

XOMA carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Companies that currently look attractive include Santarus, Inc. , Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ - Analyst Report) and Salix Pharmaceuticals (SLXP - Analyst Report). All the three carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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