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Horizon (HZNP) Begins Phase II Study for Lupus Candidate

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Horizon Therapeutics (HZNP - Free Report) announced that it has initiated a phase II study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of its novel investigational monoclonal antibody, HZN-7734, to treat people with moderate to severely active systemic lupus erythematosus (“SLE”), the most common form of lupus.

SLE is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues. It is marked by inflammation that can affect joints, skin and multiple organs.

HZN-7734 is an immunoglobulin-like transcript 7 (“ILT7”) inhibitor aiming to reduce overall disease activity of moderate to severe active SLE.

In the year so far, Horizon’s stock has risen 29.7% in comparison with the industry’s growth of 1%.

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The composite primary endpoint of the phase II study is to determine the change in British Isles lupus assessment group-based combined lupus assessment, a composite measure of overall SLE disease activity. The period of study is 48 weeks. Additional endpoints include other measures of both lupus disease activity and oral glucocorticoid reduction.

The initiation of the phase II study follows promising data from phase Ib study in patients with cutaneous lupus erythematosus, a form of lupus. The data showed that HZN-7734 promotes the destruction of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). pDCs is a type of immune cell that produces type 1 interferon and causes inflammation, which plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of lupus and other autoimmune diseases related to the interferon pathway. Moreover, HZN-7734 improved Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus disease area and severity index-activity scores, a clinical measure of cutaneous lupus in comparison with placebo.

There are limited treatment therapies available to treat SLE. It is estimated that at least 5 million people worldwide are living with a form of lupus, with SLE accounting for more than 70% of lupus cases. A potential approval for the novel treatment is expected to generate impressive revenues for Horizon in the long run.

Horizon currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Some better-ranked stocks in the medical sector include BioNTech(BNTX - Free Report) , Bayer (BAYRY - Free Report) and Repligen (RGEN - Free Report) . While BioNTech carries a Zacks Rank #1, both Bayer and Repligen currently carry Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

BioNTech’s earnings estimates for 2021 have increased from $18.39 to $30.85 per share in the past 60 days while that of 2022 has risen from $7.55 to $25.20 over the same period. The stock has surged 179.8% this year so far.

Bayer’s earnings estimates for 2021 have increased from $1.74 to $1.81 per share in the past 60 days while that of 2022 has risen from $1.89 to $2.00 over the same period. The stock has risen 3.7% in the year so far.

Repligen’s earnings estimates for 2021 have increased from $1.91 to $2.26 in the past 60 days while that of 2022 has risen from $2.23 to $2.56 per share over the same period. The stock has risen 6.5% in the year so far.

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