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Isis to stop developing rheumatoid arthritis drug

(Reuters) - Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc said it will stop developing its experimental rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drug after a mid-stage trial showed the treatment failed to significantly improve the disease symptoms when compared to a placebo.

Patients treated with the drug, called ISIS-CRPRx, had some improvements in symptoms of RA but they were not statistically significant when compared to those of patients receiving a placebo.

The treatment was developed using Isis's "antisense" technology that helps a compound bind to a specific gene in order to interrupt the production of disease-causing proteins.

The company already has regulatory approval for another drug that uses the same technology to treat a rare genetic disorder causing dangerously high levels of "bad" LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

The drug, Kynamro, was approved by the FDA in January.

ISIS-CRPRx was aiming to treat RA by reducing the production of C-reactive protein (CRP) -- whose levels are dramatically elevated during inflammatory disorders.

The drug is also being tested in another mid-stage trial for the treatment of atrial fibrillation - a heart rhythm disorder. Data from the trial is expected in the first half of 2014, Isis said in a statement on Monday, adding that it would continue to test the drug in other diseases.

Isis shares closed at $29.23 on Friday on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Esha Dey in Bangalore, additional reporting by Zeba Siddiqui; Editing by Sreejiraj Eluvangal)

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