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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, abbreviated as COPD is an umbrella term for a bunch of progressive diseases of the lung such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. The disease primarily blocks the airway and makes it difficult for the patient to breathe.

According to statistics and announcements from the WHO, COPD is the third leading cause of death with over 210M people worldwide suffering from the disease. The current, most effective treatment for it is the use of bronchodilators such as beta2-agonists or muscarinic antagonists which clear the constriction and allow air through the passage.

A European biotech, Verona Pharma, which had recently cashed in €75M through the Nasdaq IPO, has received a final vote to proceed further into the trials for its COPD and cystic fibrosis drug candidate- PDE3/PDE4 inhibitor RPL554. It has now received a green signal for a Phase 2b trial from five European countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic.

Verona plans to start the trial in Q3 this year and expects to have data ready in the second half of 2018.

The trial, involving 400 COPD patients intends to test if the first-in

-class PDE inhibitor is able to beat a placebo in terms of lung function improvement and in parallel plans to investigate if it can used as an add-on to a long-acting bronchodilator for COPD as well as applications in acute exacerbations of the disease.

According to the company if successful, the inhalable, dual inhibitor of the PDE3 and PDE4 drug compound could be the first novel bronchodilator in over 40 years.

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