Roche, Biogen Halt Arthritis Study

Roche and Cambridge, MA-based Biogen Idec are halting development of an experimental drug for rheumatoid arthritis because of safety concerns, according a report today by Bloomberg News. The drug, ocrelizumab, was designed to hit the same protein target on cells as the hit antibody ritxumimab, (Rituxan), albeit in a form thought to be more conducive for chronic autoimmune diseases than rituximab, which was originally developed as a cancer drug. Still, the new medicine was linked to “serious and opportunistic infections,” some of which were fatal, Basel, Switzerland-based Roche said today in an e-mailed statement cited by Bloomberg. The drug is still being tested for multiple sclerosis, according to the Bloomberg report.

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