An investigational drug made by Belgian pharmaceutical company Galapagos prevented further lung decline in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, reports Pulmonary Fibrosis News.

Calling the results “extremely exciting, Toby Maher, a professor of interstitial lung disease at Imperial College London, said they exceeded those of previous studies.

“This brings hope to patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis that new effective treatment may be on the horizon,” said Maher, who is also a consultant physician at London’s Royal Brompton Hospital. “Importantly, some patients even showed an increase of lung function within only 12 weeks of treatment, and the drug was well tolerated.”

GLPG1690 blocks the autotaxin enzyme, which researchers think helps cause fibrosis and disease progression in IPF. Measurements confirmed that the drug did work as intended, since the blood of treated patients showed an increase in a marker of autotaxin inhibition.

In addition, rates of patients stopping the treatment due to dverse events were similar in the two treatment groups (GLPG1690 and placebo), as were rates of serious adverse events.

Galapagos is now in talks with regulatory agencies to agree on the setup of a late-stage trial.

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