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Take a look at a selection of our recent media coverage:
29th January 2023
A novel angina gene therapy led to improvements in exercise capacity and a reduction in episodes of chest pain in those with refractory angina, according to a press release by the manufacturer.
Patients with refractory angina continue to experience symptoms despite maximal drug therapy. Current treatment options for such patients include ranolazine with trial data suggesting that the drug improves exercise capacity and additional relief of anginal symptoms in those prescribed atenolol, amlodipine or diltiazem. Nevertheless, real-world data have been disappointing. For example, one study found that the drug failed to reduce the composite of ischaemia-driven revascularisation or hospitalisation without revascularisation in those with a history of chronic angina and who had incomplete revascularisation after percutaneous coronary intervention. Consequently, there remains an unmet need for patients with refractory angina.
The press release relates to the Phase II arm of the EXACT trial, designed to assess safety of XC001 (encoberminogene rezmadenovec), which represents an angina gene therapy which is administered by a transthoracic epicardial procedure, i.e., direct intramyocardial administration. It is anticipated that XCC01 will enable expression of human vascular endothelial growth factor and thus induce angiogenesis. In short, XC001 represents a one-time gene therapy with the aim of creating new blood vessels and thereby reducing ischaemic burden in the heart. In phase 1 of the trial, 12 participants with refractory angina, underwent mini thoracotomy with 15 epicardial injections of increasing doses.
While there are no actual data in the press release, it does indicate that the angina gene therapy reduced ischaemic burden and improved total exercise duration. In fact, 6 months after treatment, nearly half of the patients were able to undertake physical activity without this causing angina.
The company now hopes to continue work with XC001 and is currently finalising the design of an upcoming trial.
11th January 2023
In a press release from the manufacturer Pfizer, it has reported that its candidate gene therapy, fidanacogene elaparvovec, is effective in reducing the annualised bleeding rate (ABR) of total bleeds compared to a prophylaxis regimen with Factor IX (FIX) administered as part of usual care.
Haemophilia B is a rare, X-linked inherited bleeding disorders caused by mutations in the F9 gene, which results in missing or reduced production/function of clotting factor IX (FIX). The prevalence of haemophilia B is 1 in 40,000 live males although female carriers may also show some signs of bleeding. An absence or reduced level of of FIX can result in spontaneous bleeding into the joints, muscles or brain causing serious complications. Currently, the mainstay of treatment for haemophilia B involves replacement of factor IX although adeno-associated viral (AAV)-based gene therapy is one of the most emerging treatment approaches. Fidanacogene elaparvovec is a novel, investigational vector that contains a bio-engineered AAV capsid (i.e., protein shell) and a high-activity human coagulation FIX gene. The aim of such gene therapy is that once treated, individuals are able to produce FIX rather than having to regularly receive exogenous FIX. In a Phase 1/2a study, 15 adult haemophilia B patients were infused with 5 x 1011 vg/kg of fidanacogene elaparvovec and followed for at least 1 year. The study examined the ABR prior to and 52 weeks after the infusion. The results showed that the mean ABR during the first 52 weeks following fidanacogene elaparvovec infusion was 0.4 ± 1.1 compared to 8.9 ± 14.0 in the 52 weeks preceding infusion (p<0.001) and in fact, 12 patients reported zero bleeds in the 52 weeks post-infusion.
The press release rates to the BENEGENE-2 study, which was a single arm trial, designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of fidanacogene elaparvovec in adult male participants with moderately severe to severe haemophilia B (defined by a Factor IX circulating activity of 2% or less). The primary outcome was the ABR for total bleeds from week 12 to month 15 post-infusion. In the trial, 45 eligible participants completed at least six months of routine exogenous FIX prophylaxis therapy during the study lead-in before receiving a single intravenous dose of fidanacogene elaparvovec (5e11 vg/kg).
Fidanacogene elaparvovec and annualised bleeding rate
The press release reports that the mean ABR for all bleeds was 1.3 for the 12 months from week 12 to month 15 compared to an ABR of 4.43 during the lead-in 6 months pre-treatment period, giving in a 71% reduction in ABR (p<0.0001) after a single dose of fidanacogene elaparvovec.
For secondary endpoints, there was a 78% reduction in treated ABR (p=0.0001) and a 92% reduction in the annualised infusion rate (p<0.0001). The mean FIX activity was 27% after 15 months and 25% at 24 months and the mean steady-state FIX concentration was significantly higher than the pre-specified threshold of 5% (p<0.0001).
The press release also notes that Fidanacogene elaparvovec has been granted breakthrough, regenerative medicines advance therapy (RMAT) and orphan drug designations from the US Food and Drug Administration, as well as PRIority MEdicines (PRIME) and orphan drug designation from the European Medicines Agency.
29th July 2022
Gene therapy with FLT180a given to patients who have haemophilia B resulted in elevation of factor IX levels to within the normal range and which was sustained for many months according to the findings of a small, Phase II trial by UK and US researchers.
Haemophilia is an inherited bleeding disorder where the blood fails to clot properly and can lead to spontaneous bleeding. There are two forms of haemophilia – A and B – both of which occur as a result of deficiency or dysfunction of blood clotting factors. Haemophilia A is due to factor VIII dysfunction and haemophilia B due to factor IX dysfunction and because the genes for these two factors are located on the X chromosome, haemophilia occurs primarily in males. The prevalence of haemophilia (per 100,000 males) has been estimated to be 17.1 cases for all severities of haemophilia A, 3.8 cases for all severities of haemophilia B and 1.1 cases for severe haemophilia B. The current treatment for haemophilia B involves intravenous infusions of factor IX either regularly, i.e., prophylactic therapy, or ‘on demand’ and while the latter is highly effective at stopping bleeding, it cannot fully reverse the long-term damage that follows after a bleed. In recent years, studies have suggested that gene therapy with FLT180a has the the potential to deliver a durable, functional cure for haemophilia B.
FLT180a is an adeno-associated virus gene therapy that carries the factor IX gene and enters liver cells and produces factor IX protein. For the present study, researchers described the efficacy and safety of FLT180a in patients with severe haemophilia B, defined as factor IX levels < 1% of the normal range (50 to 150IU/dl) and administered four different doses. In addition, all patients received glucocorticoids with or without tacrolimus to reduce the risk of a vector-related immune response. The researchers set two primary endpoints as safety (based on adverse events) and efficacy, assessed in terms of the level of factor IX induced by FLT180a after 26 weeks. Secondary endpoints included the change in annualised bleeding rates and consumption of factor IX concentrate.
Gene therapy with FLT180a and factor IX levels
Ten male patients were administered a single dose of gene therapy and completed the 26-week trial and were then enrolled in a long-term follow-up. The study provides an individual assessment of each patient and after a median of 27.2 months, sustained factor IX levels were observed in nine patients, with one resuming factor IX prophylaxis. Overall, five patients had normal factor IX levels (ranging from 51% to 78%), three had levels ranging from 23 to 43% and one had a level of 260%.
In terms of safety, none of the patients withdrew because of toxic effects and 10% of all adverse events were deemed to be related to FLT180a although all patients had at least one adverse event related to immunosuppressant therapy.
Among all patients, the mean annualised bleeding rate at baseline was 2.93 events/year which reduced to 0.71 after gene therapy. In addition, the annualised factor IX consumption per patient also decreased from 226,026IU/year to to a mean of 9723 IU/year after treatment.
The authors concluded that normal factor IX levels can be achieved after the use of FLT180a gene therapy in patients with severe or moderately severe haemophilia B.
Chowdary P et al. Phase 1–2 Trial of AAVS3 Gene Therapy in Patients with Hemophilia B. N Engl J Med 2022