Mid-stage da­ta on Al­lena's hy­per­ox­aluria drug fu­el op­ti­mism ahead of piv­otal read­out

Ahead of the piv­otal da­ta of its lead ex­per­i­men­tal drug for hy­per­ox­aluria, Al­lena Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals re­vealed in­ter­im da­ta from a small mid-stage study on Wednes­day, that sig­naled the drug con­fers ben­e­fits in cer­tain pa­tients with ad­vanced chron­ic kid­ney dis­ease (CKD) that are at risk of sys­temic ox­alo­sis, a po­ten­tial­ly life-threat­en­ing con­di­tion.

Hy­per­ox­aluria oc­curs due to high lev­els of ox­alate — a nat­ur­al chem­i­cal — in urine. Ox­alo­sis oc­curs af­ter the kid­neys fail in in­di­vid­u­als who have pri­ma­ry and in­testi­nal caus­es of hy­per­ox­aluria, and ex­cess ox­alate builds up in the blood. This can lead to ox­alate de­posits in blood ves­sels, bones and body or­gans, ac­cord­ing to the Mayo Clin­ic.

The com­pa­ny dis­closed da­ta from study 206 in­volv­ing sev­en pa­tients with pro­gres­sion of pri­ma­ry hy­per­ox­aluria (PH) — a rare con­di­tion char­ac­ter­ized by re­cur­rent kid­ney and blad­der stones — or en­teric hy­per­ox­aluria (EH), which pre­dis­pos­es pa­tients to ex­cess ox­alate ab­sorp­tion due to an un­der­ly­ing gas­troin­testi­nal dis­or­der.

In the sin­gle-arm tri­al, de­signed to en­roll be­tween 15 and 20 pa­tients, who were oral­ly ad­min­is­tered 7,500 units of relox­aliase for 12 con­sec­u­tive weeks. The pri­ma­ry end­points of the tri­al are chang­ing from base­line in 24-hour urine ox­alate (UOx) and plas­ma ox­alate (POx) se­cre­tions (UOx was col­lect­ed for pa­tients who are not on dial­y­sis).

All four EH pa­tients ex­pe­ri­enced an av­er­age re­duc­tion of 40% in POx com­pared to base­line. The two pa­tients not on dial­y­sis al­so ex­pe­ri­enced re­duc­tions in UOx of 29% and 42%, re­spec­tive­ly. Three pa­tients with PH type 2 or PH type 3 with pre­served re­nal func­tion were treat­ed — one pa­tient had a >20% mean re­duc­tion in UOx ex­cre­tion, while the oth­er two pa­tients did not show a re­sponse to relox­aliase, Al­lena $AL­NA said on Tues­day.

“Over­all, we see the da­ta as en­cour­ag­ing for the EH pop­u­la­tion (in­clud­ing those with chron­ic kid­ney dis­ease), but murki­er for the PH pop­u­la­tion,” Cred­it Su­isse an­a­lysts said. “While this is a small set­back, we see Al­lena’s plan to nar­row its fur­ther eval­u­a­tion of relox­aliase in PH to pa­tients with com­pro­mised re­nal func­tion and where the drug’s GI mech­a­nism of ac­tion may play a more im­por­tant role as sen­si­ble. We al­so note that PH is a much small­er mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ty in gen­er­al, giv­en that there are on­ly ~5,000 pa­tients in the US (vs. ~250,000 in the US with EH).”

The da­ta pro­vides op­ti­mism ahead of the Phase III read­out, an­a­lysts said. Topline da­ta from the late-stage study is ex­pect­ed in the sec­ond half of the year — and an ad­di­tion­al study 206 da­ta is al­so in­com­ing.

“Im­por­tant­ly, two stage 3 pts met Ph3 in­clu­sion cri­te­ria, pro­vid­ing +ve read-through to on­go­ing Ph3’s giv­en sim­i­lar end­point, study length, dose strength and dos­ing fre­quen­cy. Mean 35% re­duc­tion in UOx ex­ceed­ed the tar­get 20% in Ph3’s,” Jef­feries an­a­lysts wrote.

Ahead of the late-stage read­out, Baird an­a­lysts had al­so un­der­scored the im­por­tance of a clean safe­ty pro­file af­ter dos­ing fre­quen­cy was changed from 3 times dai­ly to 5 times dai­ly.  “While the cur­rent re­sults on­ly in­clude 4 pa­tients with EH, the ab­sence of treat­ment-re­lat­ed se­ri­ous ad­verse events for relox in the bas­ket tri­al gives us fur­ther con­fi­dence for the en­zyme’s safe­ty pro­file in URIROX-1/2, par­tic­u­lar­ly as these 4 EH pa­tients were sub­stan­tial­ly se­vere cas­es…In short, to­day’s bas­ket da­ta, while ear­ly, give us in­cre­men­tal op­ti­mism for relox’s tol­er­a­bil­i­ty in piv­otal stud­ies in EH.”

Relox­aliase is a crys­talline for­mu­la­tion of the en­zyme ox­alate de­car­boxy­lase, which de­grades ox­alate with­in the gas­troin­testi­nal tract, there­by lim­it­ing sys­temic ab­sorp­tion of ox­alate in­to the blood­stream. This re­duces the bur­den on the kid­ney to fil­ter and ex­crete ox­alate in the urine and, in turn, di­min­ish­es the risk of kid­ney stones and oth­er se­ri­ous re­nal dis­or­ders.


Im­age: Shut­ter­stock

5AM Ven­tures: Fu­el­ing the Next Gen­er­a­tion of In­no­va­tors

By RBC Capital Markets
With Andy Schwab, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at 5AM Ventures

Key Points

Prescription Digital Therapeutics, cell therapy technologies, and in silico medicines will be a vital part of future treatment modalities.
Unlocking the potential of the microbiome could be the missing link to better disease diagnosis.
Growing links between academia, industry, and venture capital are spinning out more innovative biotech companies.
Biotech is now seen by investors as a growth space as well as a safe haven, fuelling the recent IPO boom.

Hal Barron, GSK via YouTube

What does $29B buy you in Big Phar­ma? In Glax­o­SmithK­line’s case, a whole lot of un­com­fort­able ques­tions about the pipeline

Talk about your bad timing.

A little over a week ago, GSK R&D chief Hal Barron marked his third anniversary at the research helm by taking a turn at the virtual podium during JP Morgan to make the case that he and his team had built a valuable late-stage pipeline capable of churning out more than 10 blockbusters in the next 5 years.

And then, just days later, one of the cancer drugs he bet big on as a top prospect — bintrafusp, partnered with Merck KGaA — failed its first pivotal test in non-small cell lung cancer.

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Eli Lil­ly's an­ti­body cuts risk of Covid-19 by up to 80% among the most vul­ner­a­ble — but will it have a place next to vac­cines?

Eli Lilly says bamlanivimab lowered the risk of contracting symptomatic Covid-19 in a first-of-its-kind trial involving nursing home residents and staff, paving the way for a new option to protect against the virus.

But how big of an impact it might have, and what role it will play, at a time vaccines are being rolled out to the exact population it is targeting still remains unclear.

Among 965 participants in the study — all of whom tested negative for the coronavirus at baseline — the number of symptomatic cases reported in the bamlanivimab arm was 57% lower than that in the placebo arm (odds ratio 0.43, p=0.00021). In addition to that primary endpoint, all secondary endpoints reached statistical significance.

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Janet Woodcock (AP Images)

End­points poll: Janet Wood­cock takes the (in­ter­im) helm at the FDA. And a large ma­jor­i­ty of our read­ers want her to stay there

It’s official: Janet Woodcock is now the acting chief of the FDA.

And — according to an Endpoints poll — most industry readers would like her to stay there, although a significant minority is strongly opposed.

To recap: Joe Biden is reportedly choosing between Woodcock and former deputy FDA commissioner Joshua Sharfstein as his nominee for the permanent position. Given their respective track records, the decision is set to determine the agency’s lodestar for years to come.

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What’s next for End­points — and how to sup­port our in­de­pen­dent bio­phar­ma news mis­sion

The firehose of biopharma news is gushing these days.

That’s why broader and deeper is the theme for 2021 at Endpoints. You can expect new coverage outside our core R&D focus, with deeper reporting in some key areas. When John Carroll and I launched Endpoints nearly five years ago, we were wading in waist-high waters. Now we’re a team of 25 full-time staffers (and growing) with plans to cover the flood of biopharma news, Endpoints-style.

Charlie Fuchs, Roche and Genentech global head of product development for oncology and hematology (Yale Cancer Center)

Yale can­cer spe­cial­ist Char­lie Fuchs tapped as new glob­al de­vel­op­ment chief for Roche/Genen­tech

Roche and their big sub Genentech have just recruited a top cancer specialist at Yale to head up global product development in oncology and hematology.

I just got word that the pharma giant, which leads one of the most active cancer research operations in the world, recruited Charlie Fuchs, director of the Yale Cancer Center and physician-in-chief of Smilow Cancer Hospital. He’ll join the global operation March 1 and will be based in South San Francisco, where Genentech is based.

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Jonathan Weissman (MIT)

Can a new CRISPR tech­nique un­lock the se­crets of how can­cer spreads?

Jonathan Weissman’s team watched the cancer cells spread across the doomed mouse. Engineered with a bioluminescent enzyme, they appeared in scans first as a small navy blue diamond lodged near the heart; a week later, as a triangle splayed across the mouse’s upper body, with streaks of green and two distinct bright red hubs of activity. By day 54, the mouse resembled a lava lamp.

The images would have been familiar to any cancer biologist, but they didn’t actually tell you much about what was going on: why the cancer was metastasizing or which cells were responsible. For that, Weissman’s team had designed a new tool. Inside the original navy blue diamond, they had engineered the microbiological equivalent of an airplane’s black box — a “molecular recorder” that, after the mouse’s death, could allow them to extract the cells and wind back intimate footage of a single cancer’s ascent.

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Glax­o­SmithK­line scraps a LAG3 study, mark­ing an­oth­er fail­ure for the pipeline af­ter a crit­i­cal set­back

Another gap has appeared in GlaxoSmithKline’s pipeline.

Friday morning the Australian biotech Immutep put out word that Hal Barron’s R&D group at GSK had decided to scrap a Phase II proof-of-concept study in ulcerative colitis for their anti-LAG3 therapy GSK2831781. According to the biotech, the program didn’t survive an interim review.

The trial was stopped by GSK based on the assessment of clinical data as part of a planned interim analysis conducted in consultation with the trial’s Data Review Committee. GSK is conducting further reporting, assessment and analyses of the efficacy and safety data and evaluating the biology to determine next steps for the GSK2831781 development program.

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Janet Woodcock and Joshua Sharfstein (AP, Images)

Poll: Should Joshua Sharf­stein or Janet Wood­cock lead the FDA from here?

It’s time for a new FDA commissioner to come on board, a rite of passage for Joe Biden’s administration that should help seal the new president’s rep on seeking out the experts to lead the government over the next 4 years.

As of now, the competition for the top job appears to have narrowed down to 2 people: The longtime CDER chief Janet Woodcock and Joshua Sharfstein, the former principal deputy at the FDA under Peggy Hamburg. Both were appointed by Barack Obama.