Investors await details on Protagonist’s oral interleukin win

It has taken years and multiple attempts, but Protagonist Therapeutics might finally have an oral drug to rival injectable autoimmune disease therapies. "Might" is the operative word here, however: the company has only said that its Johnson & Johnson-partnered oral IL-23 project JNJ-2113 (PN-235) hit in phase 2, without giving details beyond saying there was a dose response. Data from the dose-ranging psoriasis study, Frontier-1, will be key as J&J has previously said JNJ-2113 would have to match the efficacy of its injectable anti-IL-23 psoriasis product Tremfya to justify further development. And this bar, outlined below, looks pretty high. JNJ-2113 appears to be the only oral IL-23 project in development, according to Evaluate Pharma, with Protagonist previously abandoning other J&J-partnered assets, PTG-200 and PN-232. Rival groups are developing oral versions of different injectable autoimmune drugs, such as Dice with its IL-17 inhibitor and Morphic with its α4β7 integrin inhibitor. In the latter class, Protagonist fell flat last year with PN-943, for which it still hopes to find a partner. With the devil in the detail, it is little wonder that the market reaction to the IL-23 news was fairly muted – Protagonist’s stock rose 14% this morning.

Matching Tremfya? What JNJ-2113 has to hit in Frontier-1
Endpoint Tremfya's performance in Voyage-1 & Voyage-2
Pasi 75* 83-91%
Pasi-90** 70-73%
IGA response of 0/1** 84-85%
*Primary endpoint of Frontier-1; **co-primary endpoint of Voyage-1 & 2. Note: results at wk 16. Source: Tremfya label.

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