Gerilimzumab, a monoclonal antibody, has its first successful dosing in humans. The drug will benefit patients with RA and other inflammatory autoimmune conditions.

Pharmaceutical company RuiYi has announced the beginning of human trials of a novel, best-in-class antibody that can be used for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other autoimmune ailments.

The monoclonal antibody is called gerilimzumab. It works against a cytokine called IL-6.

Patients with RA and other inflammatory autoimmune ailments may benefit from this discovery.

The pharmaceutical industry is poised to benefit as well as IL-6 inhibitors creep into the market for RA drugs.

Tim Van Hauwermeiren is the CEO at arGEN-X, a bio-pharmaceutical company focused on using antibodies in the treatment of cancer and autoimmune illnesses like RA.

“The first human dosing of gerilimzumab marks significant progress for this exciting antibody product candidate,” Van Hauwermeiren said in a press statement.

“Gerilimzumab is a very innovative antibody,” added Joe Zhou, president and CEO of Genor Biopharma, in a statement to the press. “It targets a safe and validated pathway and has pharmacologic properties that allow tremendous potential for affordability. We are excited about this important step in the development of gerilimzumab.”

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For patients with cancer, and autoimmune diseases like severe RA, the effectiveness, safety, and potential affordability of antibodies like this one, and targeted drugs like IL-6 inhibitors, could be significant.

RuiYi’s CEO Paul Grayson told the press that more than 20 million people worldwide are afflicted with autoimmune disorders.

“One of the greatest unmet medical needs of our time is a cost-effective treatment for these patients, 80 percent of whom are in emerging markets,” Grayson said in a statement. “We recognized early on that the pharmacologic profile of gerilimzumab had exceptional pharmacoeconomic potential for patients in both major as well as emerging markets.”

Grayson added gerilimzumab is a novel therapeutic with an anticipated low price for a biologic drug.

“With enhanced convenience, [it] should present a valuable treatment option for physicians, patients, and payers worldwide,” he said.

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IL-6 inhibitors are a new and promising class of treatments for RA patients, who often feel stuck when they run out of treatment options.

Some studies state that about 40 percent of RA patients’ treatments will fail or that the patients won’t respond to any particular course of treatment. This makes it more difficult to proactively and effectively treat this debilitating disease.

“I have tried and failed all biologics and [disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs]. My RA is not responsive to drug treatment so far,” said Stacy Winter of Kansas. “I would be willing to try just about anything at this point. I have nothing to lose.”

This discovery may be just what Winter and other patients with RA have been waiting for.

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