Zai Lab bombs Phase IIa trial in atopic dermatitis, junks the program to shift resources to the pipeline

Nasdaq darling and Shanghai hotshot Zai Lab is ditching one of its late-stage drug programs after bombing a Phase IIa trial. The company said Friday that its topical product ZL-3101 (also called Fugan) did not clear up eczema.

Samantha Du

The drug was tested in a double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled trial with 295 Chinese patients with atopic dermatitis. Fugan was safe and well-tolerated, but also a bit useless. The treatment showed no difference compared to placebo in the primary endpoint: a change in the eczema area and severity index score at day 21.

Founded and led by former Pfizer senior scientist Samantha Du — who’s been quite the force in biotech —  Zai Lab emerged on the Nasdaq $ZLAB this year raising $172 million in an IPO. The company has been building an impressive oncology pipeline, and Du just recruited AstraZeneca’s top oncology marketer William Liang to launch their first cancer drugs in China.

Du wants to move on quick from the Fugan failure.

“Although disappointing, our broad and advanced pipeline enables us to redirect resources allocated to ZL-3101 to our other advanced clinical-stage assets and opportunities,” Du said in a statement. “We look forward to providing updates on the progress of our oncology, infectious disease and auto-immune drug candidates.”

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