Fu­eled by ear­ly suc­cess, Enan­ta paves way for mid-stage RSV study in adult pa­tients lat­er this year

RSV, a field lit­tered with fail­ure, has an­oth­er hope­ful.

On Fri­day, Enan­ta Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals showed that its ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment, EDP-938, con­ferred a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in the res­pi­ra­to­ry syn­cy­tial virus (RSV) vi­ral load in healthy adults in­oc­u­lat­ed with the virus. Now comes the hard part.

Jay Lu­ly Enan­ta

“While we view to­day’s pos­i­tive re­sults from the Phase 2a hu­man chal­lenge study as en­cour­ag­ing, we an­tic­i­pate that re­sults from the Phase 2b will go a much longer way as to de­ter­min­ing whether EDP-938 is a vi­able treat­ment for RSV…We think the path to com­mer­cial­iza­tion here is par­tic­u­lar­ly dif­fi­cult to nav­i­gate, giv­en that RSV in­fec­tion re­solves fair­ly quick­ly with­out in­ter­ven­tion and the key will be show­ing a dif­fer­ence in terms of time to res­o­lu­tion,” Baird’s Bri­an Sko­r­ney wrote in a note.

Once 115 healthy adults were in­oc­u­lat­ed with the virus, pa­tients were ran­dom­ized to ei­ther get place­bo or ad­min­is­tered two dif­fer­ent EDP-938 reg­i­mens. The Enan­ta drug is an N-pro­tein in­hibitor, which the com­pa­ny be­lieves has an edge over fu­sion in­hibitors cur­rent­ly in de­vel­op­ment, as it tar­gets the virus’ repli­ca­tion ma­chin­ery. Com­pared to the place­bo, pa­tients giv­en ei­ther reg­i­men achieved a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion (p<0.001) in RSV vi­ral load and was well tol­er­at­ed, Enan­ta said.

“We think this study large­ly con­firms the an­ti-vi­ral ac­tiv­i­ty of this drug, but was wide­ly ex­pect­ed and the pro­gram is now mov­ing in­to the more cost­ly and dif­fi­cult pe­ri­od of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment…Re­call, RSV has been a tough space, with John­son and John­son dis­con­tin­u­ing de­vel­op­ment of lu­mic­itabine, even af­ter the med­ica­tion had pro­duced promis­ing Phase 2a re­sults from a sim­i­lar hu­man chal­lenge mod­el,” Sko­r­ney not­ed.

The com­plex mol­e­c­u­lar struc­ture of RSV has large­ly thwart­ed drug­mak­ers from de­vel­op­ing a vac­cine or a treat­ment for an in­fec­tion that af­flicts most Amer­i­can in­fants be­fore their sec­ond birth­day. For most old­er healthy chil­dren and adults, RSV caus­es lit­tle dis­com­fort be­yond a com­mon cold, but in high-risk groups with com­pro­mised im­mune sys­tems such as in­fants and the el­der­ly, it can lead to more se­ri­ous lung and air­way in­fec­tions.

But ef­forts to sti­fle the in­fec­tion have cul­mi­nat­ed in a litany of fail­ures. Most re­cent­ly, J&J $JNJ ter­mi­nat­ed Phase IIb tri­als of its RSV drug lu­mic­itabine, Re­gen­eron $REGN aban­doned its RSV drug af­ter a late-stage fail­ure and No­vavax’s $NVAX RSV vac­cine has failed a pair of Phase III tri­als (al­though it in­sists there’s a way for­ward). The on­ly sil­ver lin­ing is from As­traZeneca $AZN, the orig­i­nal mak­er of the on­ly pre­ven­ta­tive treat­ment, Synagis, for se­ri­ous low­er res­pi­ra­to­ry tract in­fec­tions (LR­TI) caused by RSV in in­fants and young chil­dren. In Feb­ru­ary, the British drug­mak­er was grant­ed ex­pe­dit­ed re­view from US and EU reg­u­la­tors for its long-act­ing RSV drug, ME­DI8897.

Buoyed by its ear­ly suc­cess, Enan­ta is plan­ning its Phase IIb study by the end of 2019 in adult out­pa­tients with con­firmed RSV in­fec­tions, com­pa­ny chief Jay Lu­ly said.

The com­pa­ny’s shares $EN­TA ini­tial­ly rose, but closed down about 12% at $85.81 on Fri­day. “I just don’t think RSV treat­ment is an in­di­ca­tion that in­vestors are ready to give cred­it to at this stage so it be­came a sell the news event,” Sko­r­ney told End­points News.

So­cial im­age: Shut­ter­stock

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing the val­ue of pre­ci­sion med­i­cine

By Natasha Cowan, Content Marketing Manager at Blue Latitude Health.
Many stakeholders are confused by novel precision medicines, including patients and healthcare professionals. So, how can industry help them to navigate this complexity?

Precision medicine represents a new paradigm in healthcare. It embodies the shift from treating many patients with the same therapy, to having the tools to identify the best treatment for every patient.

Mer­ck buys a fledg­ling neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive biotech spawned by an old GSK dis­cov­ery al­liance. What’s up with that?

Avalon Ventures chief Jay Lichter has a well-known yen for drug development programs picked up in academia. And what he found in Haoxing Xu’s lab at the University of Michigan pricked his interest enough to launch one of his umbrella biotechs in San Diego.
Xu’s work laid the foundation for Avalon to launch Calporta, which has been working on finding small molecule agonists of TRPML1 (transient receptor potential cation channel, mucolipin subfamily, member 1) for lysosomal storage disorders. And that pathway, they believe, points to new approaches on major market neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, ALS and Alzheimer’s.

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In­vestors could emerge from Neil Wood­ford de­ba­cle with £1B loss, in­ter­nal analy­sis re­veals

When Link Fund Solutions announced that it is closing Woodford Equity Income Fund permanently and kicking out Neil Woodford, it was implied that investors probably won’t get back everything they entrusted to the fund manager. But nobody knew just how much they would lose.

An internal analysis commissioned by Link suggested that the collective loss could amount to £1 billion — out of a fund last valued at £3.1 billion — Citywire has revealed.

GSK's asth­ma bi­o­log­ic Nu­cala scores in rare blood dis­or­der study

GlaxoSmithKline’s asthma drug Nucala, which received a resounding FDA rejection for use in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) last year, has shown promise in a rare blood disorder.

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Spe­cial re­port: Twen­ty ex­tra­or­di­nary women in bio­phar­ma R&D who worked their way to the top

What differentiates a woman leader in biopharma R&D from a man?

Not much, except there are fewer of them in senior posts. Data suggest women are not more risk-averse, family-oriented or less confident than their male counterparts — indeed the differences between the two sexes are negligible. But a glance at the top R&D positions in Big Pharma leaves little doubt that upward migration in the executive ranks of biopharma R&D is tough.

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FDA Vas­cepa re­view spot­lights new safe­ty sig­nals, pos­si­ble min­er­al oil spoil­er as Amarin hunts a block­buster ap­proval

An in-house FDA review of Amarin’s Vascepa raises a set of hurdles the biotech will have to clear if the biotech expects to get the long-awaited FDA approval that could set it on a path to superstar status. But it appears that Amarin has survived another potential setback without introducing a major new threat to its prospects.

The stakes don’t get much higher, with analysts saying a win this week for Amarin could lead to billions in new sales — provided the agency stamps it with an OK. And investors liked what they say in the FDA review this morning, bumping the stock $AMRN 17%.

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FDA puts Sol­id Bio’s lead gene ther­a­py pro­gram on hold — again — af­ter an­oth­er pa­tient is hurt by SGT-001

Solid Biosciences continues to be plagued by safety issues.

Close to 18 months after the gene therapy biotech was able to quickly shed an FDA hold on their lead Duchenne muscular dystrophy program for SGT-001, regulators have stepped back in to force another halt after another patient was hit hard by a set of serious adverse events remarkably similar to the first set.

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FDA slaps a hold on an AML tri­al as Mark­er scraps a fail­ing ovar­i­an can­cer pro­gram, sink­ing shares

The FDA has placed a hold on a Phase II AML trial from the small immuno-oncology biotech Marker Therapeutics. Marker disclosed the issue two weeks after responding to FDA concerns, adding it to the Q3 release Tuesday. The company also announced it was scrapping a Phase II ovarian cancer program it determined was unlikely to succeed.

The agency’s concern centers around two reagents used in manufacturing for their trial for acute myeloid leukemia patients who have received a stem cell transplant. The reagents are from third parties and not present in the final product, Marker said.

Eli Lil­ly-backed biotech grabs $100M to dis­patch an­ti­body-oligonu­cleotide con­ju­gates af­ter mus­cu­lar dy­s­tro­phy

Hold up your hand. Make a fist. Now open it. And again.

If you can do it fully and with ease, then the proteins in your hand are likely working properly. If you can’t then they may not be. In people with myotonic muscular dystrophy, something more atomic is going on.

In those folks, the problem is RNA. Certain base pairs repeat far beyond normal, up to 11,000 superfluous letters in some cases. The extended strands form “clumps.” Proteins misform and can’t function properly. They often allow one movement but not the reverse, a condition called myotonia that gives the dystrophy its name.