FDA approves first-of-its kind targeted RNA-based therapy to treat a rare disease
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Onpattro (patisiran) infusion for the treatment of peripheral nerve disease (polyneuropathy) caused by hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis (hATTR) in adult patients. This is the first FDA-approved treatment for patients with polyneuropathy caused by hATTR, a rare, debilitating and often fatal genetic disease characterized by the buildup of abnormal amyloid protein in peripheral nerves, the heart and other organs. It is also the first FDA approval of a new class of drugs called small interfering ribonucleic acid (siRNA) treatment.
“This approval is part of a broader wave of advances that allow us to treat disease by actually targeting the root cause, enabling us to arrest or reverse a condition, rather than only being able to slow its progression or treat its symptoms. In this case, the effects of the disease cause a degeneration of the nerves, which can manifest in pain, weakness and loss of mobility,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “New technologies like RNA inhibitors, that alter the genetic drivers of a disease, have the potential to transform medicine, so we can better confront and even cure debilitating illnesses. We’re committed to advancing scientific principles that enable the efficient development and review of safe, effective and groundbreaking treatments that have the potential to change patients’ lives.”
RNA acts as a messenger within the body’s cells, carrying instructions from DNA for controlling the synthesis of proteins. RNA interference is a process that occurs naturally within our cells to block how certain genes are expressed. Since its discovery in 1998, scientists have used RNA interference as a tool to investigate gene function and its involvement in health and disease. Researchers at theNational Institutes of Health, for example, have used robotic technologies to introduce siRNAs into human cells to individually turn off nearly 22,000 genes.
This new class of drugs, called siRNAs, work by silencing a portion of RNA involved in causing the disease. More specifically, Onpattro encases the siRNA into a lipid nanoparticle to deliver the drug directly into the liver, in an infusion treatment, to alter or halt the production of disease-causing proteins.
Affecting about 50,000 people worldwide, hATTR is a rare condition. It is characterized by the buildup of abnormal deposits of protein fibers called amyloid in the body’s organs and tissues, interfering with their normal functioning. These protein deposits most frequently occur in the peripheral nervous system, which can result in a loss of sensation, pain, or immobility in the arms, legs, hands and feet. Amyloid deposits can also affect the functioning of the heart, kidneys, eyes and gastrointestinal tract. Treatment options have generally focused on symptom management.
Onpattro is designed to interfere with RNA production of an abnormal form of the protein transthyretin (TTR). By preventing the production of TTR, the drug can help reduce the accumulation of amyloid deposits in peripheral nerves, improving symptoms and helping patients better manage the condition.
“There has been a long-standing need for a treatment for hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis polyneuropathy. This unique targeted therapy offers these patients an innovative treatment for their symptoms that directly affects the underlying basis of this disease,” said Billy Dunn, M.D., director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
The efficacy of Onpattro was shown in a clinical trial involving 225 patients, 148 of whom were randomly assigned to receive an Onpattro infusion once every three weeks for 18 months, and 77 of whom were randomly assigned to receive a placebo infusion at the same frequency. The patients who received Onpattro had better outcomes on measures of polyneuropathy including muscle strength, sensation (pain, temperature, numbness), reflexes and autonomic symptoms (blood pressure, heart rate, digestion) compared to those receiving the placebo infusions. Onpattro-treated patients also scored better on assessments of walking, nutritional status and the ability to perform activities of daily living.
The most common adverse reactions reported by patients treated with Onpattro are infusion-related reactions including flushing, back pain, nausea, abdominal pain, dyspnea (difficulty breathing) and headache. All patients who participated in the clinical trials received premedication with a corticosteroid, acetaminophen, and antihistamines (H1 and H2 blockers) to reduce the occurrence of infusion-related reactions. Patients may also experience vision problems including dry eyes, blurred vision and eye floaters (vitreous floaters). Onpattro leads to a decrease in serum vitamin A levels, so patients should take a daily Vitamin A supplement at the recommended daily allowance.
The FDA granted this applicationFast Track,Priority ReviewandBreakthrough Therapydesignations. Onpattro also receivedOrphan Drugdesignation, which provides incentives to assist and encourage the development of drugs for rare diseases.
Approval of Onpattro was granted to Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
FDA approves new treatment for a rare genetic disorder, Fabry disease
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Galafold (migalastat), the first oral medication for the treatment of adults with Fabry disease. The drug is indicated for adults with Fabry disease who have a genetic mutation determined to be responsive (“amenable”) to treatment with Galafold based on laboratory data. Fabry disease is a rare and serious genetic disease that results from buildup of a type of fat called globotriaosylceramide (GL-3) in blood vessels, the kidneys, the heart, the nerves and other organs.
“Thus far, treatment of Fabry disease has involved replacing the missing enzyme that causes the particular type of fat buildup in this disease. Galafold differs from enzyme replacement in that it increases the activity of the body’s deficient enzyme,” said Julie Beitz, M.D., director of the Office of Drug Evaluation III in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Fabry disease is an inherited disorder caused by mutations (alterations) in the alpha-galactosidase A (GLA) gene located on the X-chromosome. Fabry disease is rare and affects both males and females. It is estimated that classic Fabry disease (the most severe type) affects approximately one in 40,000 males. The later-onset type is more frequent, and in some populations, may occur in one in 1,500 to 4,000 males. Patients with Fabry disease develop slowly progressive kidney disease, cardiac hypertrophy (enlargement of the heart), arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm), stroke and early death.
The efficacy of Galafold was demonstrated in a six-month, placebo-controlled clinical trial in 45 adults with Fabry disease. In this trial, patients treated with Galafold over six months had a greater reduction in globotriaosylceramide (GL-3) in blood vessels of the kidneys (as measured in kidney biopsy samples) as compared to patients on placebo.The safety of Galafold was studied in four clinical trials which included a total of 139 patients with Fabry disease.
The most common adverse drug reactions in patients taking Galafold in clinical trials were headache, nasal and throat irritation (nasopharyngitis), urinary tract infection, nausea, and fever (pyrexia).
Galafold was approved using theAccelerated Approvalpathway, under which the FDA may approve drugs for serious conditions where there is an unmet medical need and where a drug is shown to have certain effects that are reasonably likely to predict a clinical benefit to patients. A further study is required to verify and describe the clinical benefits of Galafold, and the sponsor will be conducting a confirmatory clinical trial of Galafold in adults with Fabry disease.
Galafold was grantedPriority Reviewdesignation, under which the FDA’s goal is to take action on an application within six months of application filing where the agency determines that the drug, if approved, would provide a significant improvement in treating, diagnosing or preventing a serious condition over available therapies. Galafold also receivedOrphan Drugdesignation, which provides incentives to assist and encourage the development of drugs for rare diseases.
The FDA granted approval of Galafold to Amicus Therapeutics U.S., Inc.
FDA approves new vaginal ring for one year of birth control
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Annovera (segesterone acetate and ethinyl estradiol vaginal system), which is a combined hormonal contraceptive for women of reproductive age used to prevent pregnancy and is the first vaginal ring contraceptive that can be used for an entire year. Annovera is a reusable donut-shaped (ring), non-biodegradable, flexible vaginal system that is placed in the vagina for three weeks followed by one week out of the vagina, at which time women may experience a period (a withdrawal bleed). This schedule is repeated every four weeks for one year (thirteen 28-day menstrual cycles).
“The FDA is committed to supporting innovation in women’s health and today’s approval builds on available birth control options,” states Victor Crentsil, M.D., acting deputy director of the Office of Drug Evaluation III in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Annovera is washed and stored in a compact case for the seven days not in use. Annovera does not require refrigeration prior to dispensing and can withstand storage temperatures up to 30°C (86°F).
The efficacy and safety of Annovera were studied in three, open label clinical trials with healthy women ranging from 18 to 40 years of age. Based on the results, about two to four women out of 100 women may get pregnant during the first year they use Annovera.
All hormonal contraception carries serious risks. Annovera carries a boxed warning relating to cigarette smoking and serious cardiovascular events. Women over 35 who smoke should not use Annovera. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious cardiovascular events from combination hormonal contraceptive use.
Annovera is contraindicated and should not be used in women with:
A high risk of arterial or venous thrombotic diseases;
Current or history of breast cancer or other estrogen- or progestin-sensitive cancer;
Liver tumors, acute hepatitis, or severe (decompensated) cirrhosis;
Undiagnosed abnormal uterine bleeding;
Hypersensitivity to any of the components of Annovera; and
Use of Hepatitis C drug combinations containing ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir, with or without dasabuvir.
The most common side effects in women using Annovera are similar to those of other combined hormonal contraceptive products and include headache/migraine, nausea/vomiting, yeast infections, abdominal pain, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, diarrhea and genital itching.
The FDA is requiring postmarketing studies to further evaluate the risks of venous thromboembolism, and the effects of CYP3A modulating drugs and tampon use on the pharmacokinetics of Annovera.
The FDA granted approval of Annovera to The Population Council, Inc.