The results bode well for CNTO 136, which targets one of the most important immune-regulating proteins: interleukin 6. The current phase 3 trials for rheumatoid arthritis are top priority at the moment, but that may be just the beginning of possible indications. Just as Stelara is being investigated in other indications, so too will a successful sirukumab. Drugs targeting interleukin 6 have been shown to treat osteoporosis, drug-resistant bacteria, and of course fever and inflammation induced by the immune system.
Foolish bottom line
If CNTO 136 shows significance in ongoing phase 3 trials, then Johnson & Johnson could become the undisputed leader in the massive rheumatoid arthritis market. The company would offer drugs for all levels of severity and response: Remicade and Simponi for easier-to-treat cases, and Stelara (pending approval) and sirukumab for patients having no luck with first-line treatments. Even then, the company’s basket of immunology drugs are only a small piece of this complex health care giant.
Fool contributor Maxx Chatsko has no position in any stocks mentioned. Check out his personal portfolio or follow him on Twitter @BlacknGoldFool to keep up with his writing on energy, bioprocessing, and emerging technologies.The Motley Fool recommends Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson.
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