Ziarco Pharma, a biopharmaceutical company focusing on steroid-unresponsive inflammation and allergic diseases, was awarded a £1.7 million ($2.9 million) grant from the U.K.’s Technology Strategy Board.

Ziarco will use the funding to further develop ZPL-389, an oral antagonist of the recently discovered histamine H4 receptor, which is in clinical development to treat dermatological and potentially other inflammatory diseases. Specifically, the grant will support a Phase IIa study to further evaluate ZPL-389 in patients with Atopic Dermatitis (AD).

ZPL-389 has already been studied in over 60 subjects in two countries. Ziarco said it believes that ZPL-389 is one of only two clinical-stage oral H4 antagonists in active development. Previously, ZPL-389 has completed a 14 day multi-dose study as well as earlier Phase I studies incorporating a dose-setting biomarker.

“We believe that H4 antagonism will prove a valuable new contribution to treatment of many diseases and that ZPL-389 will make a real difference to patients suffering from itch and skin inflammation,” said Dr. Mike Yeadon, CEO of Ziarco. “The Biomedical Catalyst funding is a big help in enabling us to conduct the upcoming AD study, and thus to take an additional step in bringing ZPL389 to patients.”

This is the second award granted by the Technology Strategy Board this week. On Monday, the innovation agency offered Horizon Discovery and LGC a research grant of £360,224 ($608,000) to establish methods and cross platform datasets to standardize existing liquid biopsy genetic diagnostic tests.

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