A new gout treatment being developed by BioCryst (Nasdaq:BCRX) has achieved positive phase 2 clinical trial results, which support the advance of the drug candidate into late-stage clinical studies and boost the company’s case for finding a drug partner to take on the compound.

BioCryst, a Durham-based biopharmaceutical company, is studying the compound called BCX4208 as an adjunct therapy for patients using the gout drug allopurinol. Allopurinol reduces the uric acid production that leads to inflammation and joint pain experienced by gout patients.

But the drug is nearly 50 years old and it does not work for everyone. What BioCryst aims to do with BCX4208 is offer an add-on therapy for the millions of patients who don’t respond to allopurinol alone.

“That opportunity we view as very low-hanging fruit from a payer perspective because they’ve failed on a generic and adding another drug makes a lot of sense,” BioCryst CEO Jon Stonehouse said. “We see that as a much easier marketing strategy and better way to get a good price, and market penetration and reimbursement.”

The phase 2b trial results released today studied BCX4208 in a 24-week study. The trial followed a 12-week clinical study completed last October. BioCryst said that the uric acid reduction seen at 12 weeks continued through 24 weeks of treatment. Stonehouse added that results demonstrated that BCX4208 worked in synergy with allopurinol, had minimal drug interaction and is safe to use in patients who have kidney stones.

Dr. William Sheridan, BioCryst’s chief medical officer, said that the data supports taking BCX4208 into phase 3 clinical trials. But the company’s preferred route is finding a drug partner with the resources to take the compound into late-stage clinical studies and the reach to ultimately commercialize the drug worldwide. In the meantime, the company is planning end-of-phase 2 regulatory discussions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The company will also be extending its study and evaluating BCX4208 in patients for one year.