Autolus Therapeutics Receives FDA Orphan Drug Designation
Autolus Therapeutics plc recently announced the US FDA has granted orphan drug designation to autologous enriched T-cells genetically modified with a retroviral vector to express two chimeric antigen receptors targeting CD19 and CD22 (AUTO3) for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
According to the National Institute of Health’s National Cancer Institute, in the US, there will be an estimated 5,930 new cases of ALL and an estimated 1,500 related deaths in 2019. Patients are predominantly children; approximately 60% of cases occur at age < 20 years. ALL occurs when the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell. Despite a high rate of response to induction chemotherapy, only 30% to 40% of adult patients with ALL will achieve long-term remission. Similarly, pediatric patients typically respond well to first-line treatment (combination chemotherapy) but 10% to 20% of total patients relapse with chemotherapy-resistant disease, leading to a significant unmet need in pediatric patients with high-risk relapsed or refractory ALL.
“We are pleased to receive orphan drug designation for AUTO3 for acute lymphoblastic leukemia,” said Dr. Christian Itin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Autolus. “Earlier this year, we presented encouraging updated data from the AMELIA Phase 1/2 trial of AUTO3 in pediatric ALL patients. We believe that AUTO3 has the potential to be a best in class therapy in pediatric ALL by addressing antigen escape, a common cause of relapse in these patients. AUTO3 may also provide an improved safety profile over currently marketed CAR T therapies with low levels of severe CRS and neurotoxicity observed in clinical studies.”
Orphan drug designation is granted by the FDA Office of Orphan Products Development to drugs and biologics which are intended for the treatment, diagnosis or prevention of rare diseases/disorders that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the US. Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may provide grant funding toward clinical trial costs, tax advantages, FDA user-fee benefits, and 7 years of market exclusivity in the US following marketing approval by the FDA. For more information about orphan designation, please visit the FDA website at www.fda.gov.
AUTO3 is a programmed T cell therapy containing two independent chimeric antigen receptors targeting CD19 and CD22 that have each been independently optimized for single target activity. By simultaneously targeting two B cell antigens, AUTO3 is designed to minimize relapse due to single antigen loss in patients with B cell malignancies. AUTO3 is currently being tested in pediatric ALL in the AMELIA clinical trial and in diffuse large B cell lymphoma in the ALEXANDER clinical trial.
Autolus is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing next-generation, programmed T cell therapies for the treatment of cancer. Using a broad suite of proprietary and modular T cell programming technologies, the company is engineering precisely targeted, controlled and highly active T cell therapies that are designed to better recognize cancer cells, break down their defense mechanisms and eliminate these cells. Autolus has a pipeline of product candidates in development for the treatment of hematological malignancies and solid tumors. For more information, visit www.autolus.com.
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