FDA mo­tions Al­ny­lam's lumasir­an in­to a PhI­II short track, set­ting up a shot at an OK in '20

Al­ny­lam $AL­NY may be go­ing so­lo on the de­vel­op­ment of rare dis­ease drug lumasir­an af­ter Sanofi took a pass on its op­tion, but the FDA has come through with a ma­jor as­sist. The com­pa­ny an­nounced to­day that reg­u­la­tors have agreed on a Phase III study de­sign that would ac­cel­er­ate — should all go well — its jour­ney to ap­proval.

For the tri­al de­signed to test lumasir­an in the ul­tra-rare pri­ma­ry hy­per­ox­aluria type 1 (PH1), the new­ly reached align­ment al­lows Al­ny­lam to adopt a pri­ma­ry end­point based on a bio­mark­er: the re­duc­tion of uri­nary ox­alate at six months. The FDA has al­so sanc­tioned a study size of around 25 pa­tients with PH1.

Pritesh Gand­hi

The use of a bio­mark­er spot­lights the FDA’s will­ing­ness to let drug­mak­ers shoot for faster OKs, rather than forc­ing them to wait for da­ta on dis­ease pathol­o­gy (Al­ny­lam notes the bio­mark­er is “di­rect­ly linked to the patho­phys­i­ol­o­gy of PH1 and known to be well cor­re­lat­ed with dis­ease pro­gres­sion”).

The tri­al de­sign pact with the agency al­so marks an ad­vance for the late-stage pipeline at Al­ny­lam as it waits for an ex­pect­ed ap­proval of patisir­an, which will launch their first com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions in RNAi. This biotech has been through all the ups and downs of­ten seen with any new ap­proach to drug de­vel­op­ment. And it’s poised for some ma­jor changes.

With the study de­sign ham­mered out, Al­ny­lam ex­pects to start the PhI­II study in mid-2018, re­port topline re­sults in 2019 and, if pos­i­tive, sub­mit an NDA in ear­ly 2020.

“We are very pleased with the FDA’s shared sense of ur­gency to eval­u­ate the ef­fi­ca­cy and safe­ty of lumasir­an as a po­ten­tial ther­a­peu­tic op­tion for pa­tients as rapid­ly as pos­si­ble,” said Pritesh Gand­hi, gen­er­al man­ag­er of the lumasir­an pro­gram, in a state­ment.

Al­ny­lam is cur­rent­ly con­duct­ing a Phase I/II Part B study in 20 pa­tients. Pre­lim­i­nary re­sults, an­nounced last year, sug­gest that lumasir­an led to a mean max­i­mal re­duc­tion in uri­nary ox­alate of 66% in an un­blind­ed group of four pa­tients, and all of them achieved uri­nary ox­alate lev­els at or near the nor­mal range. Lumasir­an, an RNAi ther­a­peu­tic, is de­signed to “re­duce the he­pat­ic lev­els of the [gly­co­late ox­i­dase] en­zyme, there­by de­plet­ing the sub­strate nec­es­sary for ox­alate pro­duc­tion.” It was grant­ed a break­through ther­a­py des­ig­na­tion in March.

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck pulls Keytru­da in SCLC af­ter ac­cel­er­at­ed nod. Is the FDA get­ting tough on drug­mak­ers that don't hit their marks?

In what could be an early shot in the battle against drugmakers that whiff on confirmatory studies to support accelerated approvals, the FDA ordered Bristol Myers Squibb late last year to give up Opdivo’s approval in SCLC. Now, Merck is next on the firing line — are we seeing the FDA buckling down on post-marketing offenders?

Merck has withdrawn its marketing approval for PD-(L)1 inhibitor Keytruda in metastatic small cell lung cancer as part of what it describes as an “industry-wide evaluation” by the FDA of drugs that do not meet the post-marketing checkpoints on which their accelerated nods were based, the company said Monday.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Paul Sekhri

The next big biotech su­per­star? Paul Sekhri has some thoughts on that

It occasionally occurs to Paul Sekhri that if they pull this off, his company will be on the front page of the New York Times and a lead story in just about every major news outlet on the planet. He tries not to dwell on it, though.

“I just want to be laser-focused on getting to that point,” Sekhri says, before acknowledging, “Yes, it absolutely crossed my mind.”

Sekhri, a longtime biopharma executive with tenures at Sanofi and Novartis, is now entering year three as CEO of eGenesis, the biotech that George Church protégé Luhan Yang founded to genetically alter pigs so that they can be used for organ transplants. He led them through one megaround and has just closed another, raising $125 million from 17 different investors to push the first-ever (humanized) pig to human transplants into the clinic.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Amit Munshi, Arena

One of Are­na's top drugs flops in a PhI­Ib study for IBS pain. But re­searchers tease out a pos­si­ble path for­ward as CEO ex­plores 's­trate­gic op­tion­s'

Four years ago, when Arena CEO Amit Munshi cut its ties to a troubled weight drug and doubled down on the pipeline, a cannabinoid receptor 2 agonist figured prominently in the biotech’s future. On Tuesday evening, however, Munshi’s high hopes for the drug took a nasty hit after it failed a Phase IIb study for patients with irritable bowel syndrome pain.

Put through a randomized pace with 273 patients, researchers said it flat failed the primary endpoint among the large group with abdominal pain. But they quickly went on to highlight subgroup data, always a tricky and controversial ploy, where they spotlighted a positive p value for patients with moderate to severe pain who received the high dose of the drug — one of 3 provided in the study.

Bob Nelsen (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

With stars aligned and cash in re­serve, Bob Nelsen's Re­silience plans a makeover at 2 new fa­cil­i­ty ad­di­tions to its drug man­u­fac­tur­ing up­start

Bob Nelsen’s new, state-of-the-art drug manufacturing initiative is taking shape.

Just 3 months after gathering $800 million of launch money, a dream team board and a plan to shake up a field where he found too many bottlenecks and inefficiencies for the era of Covid-19, Resilience has snapped up a pair of facilities now in line for a retooling.

The company has acquired a 310,000-square-foot plant in Boston from Sanofi along with a 136,000-square-foot plant in Ontario to add to a network which CEO Rahul Singhvi says is just getting started on building his company’s operations up. The Sanofi deal comes with a contract to continue manufacturing one of its drugs.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

CEO Marco Taglietti (Scynexis)

'N­ev­er been more ur­gent:' Scynex­is looks to tack­le su­per­bug cri­sis with late-stage read­out for an­ti­fun­gal hope­ful

As the superbug crisis heats up around the world, Scynexis says it has new data from two interim analyses that prove its antifungal has the potential to treat a broad range of infections.

“The need for new anti-infectives capable of fighting the most resistant pathogens has never been more urgent as we confront the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic,” CEO Marco Taglietti said in a statement.

A spot­light schiz­o­phre­nia drug in Neu­ro­crine's $2B Take­da deal flunks its first ma­jor test. But it's not giv­ing up yet

When Takeda spun out a pipeline of experimental psychiatry drugs to Neurocrine in a $2 billion deal amid a post-merger shakeout, R&D chief Andy Plump described the therapies as “very interesting but still difficult.”

On Tuesday, we got some idea of how difficult.

San Diego-based Neurocrine revealed that one of the three spotlight clinical programs they’d acquired failed the primary endpoint in a Phase II trial for schizophrenia, registering a negative outcome on the change from baseline in the positive and negative syndrome scale/negative symptom factor score (PANSS NSFS).

Af­ter bail­ing on Covid-19 vac­cines, Mer­ck will team up with J&J to pro­duce its shot as part of un­usu­al Big Phar­ma pact

Merck took a big gamble when it opted to jump into the Covid-19 vaccine race late, and made an equally momentous decision to back out in late January. Now, looking to chip in on the effort, Merck reportedly agreed to team up with one of the companies that has already crossed the finish line.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday is expected to announce a partnership between drugmakers Merck and Johnson & Johnson to jointly produce J&J’s recombinant protein Covid-19 vaccine that received the FDA’s emergency use authorization Saturday, the Washington Post reported.

Ab­b­Vie tees up a biotech buy­out af­ter siz­ing up their Parkin­son's drug spun out of Ke­van Shokat's lab

AbbVie has teed up a small but intriguing biotech buyout after looking over the preclinical work it’s been doing in Parkinson’s disease.

The company is called Mitokinin, a Bay Area biotech spun out of the lab of UCSF’s Kevan Shokat, whose scientific explorations have formed the academic basis of a slew of startups in the biotech hub. One of Shokat’s PhD students in the lab, Nicholas Hertz, co-founded Mitokinin using their lab work on PINK1 suggesting that amping up its activity could play an important role in regulating the mitochondrial dysfunction contributing to Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis and progression.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Fi­bro­Gen shares skid low­er as a sur­prise ad­comm rais­es risks on roxa OK

FibroGen will likely have to delay its US rollout for roxadustat once again.

In an unexpected move, the FDA is convening its Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee to review the NDA in an advisory committee meeting. The date is yet to be confirmed.

Just a few weeks ago, SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges predicted that the roxa approval could come ahead of the PDUFA date on March 20 — effusive despite already being let down once by the FDA’s extension of its review back in December. AstraZeneca, which is partnered with FibroGen on the chronic kidney disease-related anemia drug, disclosed regulators had requested further clarifying analyses of clinical data.