Galapagos, in collaboration with MorphoSys, has started the IGUANA trial by screening the first patient of the trial.

IGUANA is a Phase II trial of MOR106 to treat patients with atopic dermatitis (AD).

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The placebo controlled, double-blind trial is designed to evaluate the efficacy, safety and pharmacokinetics (PK) of MOR106.

Under the trial, around 180 patients with moderate-to-severe AD will be treated over a 12-week period with one of three different doses of MOR106 or placebo using two different dosing regimens across various centres in Europe.

"Moderate-to-severe AD is a chronic, debilitating disease affecting millions of patients worldwide."

The trial will investigate dosing at two or four-week intervals over the 12-week treatment period, which will be followed by a 16-week observation period.

The primary objective of the trial is the evaluation of percentage change from baseline in Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) score at week 12.

MorphoSys chief development officer Dr Malte Peters said: “Moderate-to-severe AD is a chronic, debilitating disease affecting millions of patients worldwide.

“We see a clear unmet medical need for additional safe and efficacious treatment options and we are looking forward to further developing MOR106 for these patients in the Phase II trial we have now initiated together with our partner Galapagos.”

MorphoSys has used its Ylanthia antibody platform to develop MOR106, which is based on a target discovered by Galapagos.

MOR106 is an investigational antibody directed against IL-17C, a cytokine expressed preferentially in the skin and has been implicated in dermal inflammation.

IL-17C is also shown to be distinct from other members of the IL-17 cytokine family.

MorphoSys is yet to confirm the safety and efficacy of MOR106.