Source: Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc.; GeneTx Biotherapeutics LLC
SARASOTA, Fla. and NOVATO, Calif., Sept. 03, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- GeneTx Biotherapeutics LLC and Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ: RARE), a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel products for serious rare and ultra-rare diseases, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Orphan Drug Designation and Rare Pediatric Disease Designation to GTX-102 for the treatment of Angelman Syndrome, a serious, debilitating rare neurogenetic disorder that affects approximately 1 in 15,000 people worldwide.
"The granting of these designations from the FDA is an enormous milestone for the Angelman community," stated Paula Evans, Chief Executive Officer of GeneTx. "We are thrilled that the FDA recognizes the urgency for the development of effective therapeutics in this patient population and that GeneTx, a company launched because of the efforts of this patient community, is the first in this space to receive the Rare Pediatric Disease Designation."
GTX-102 is currently in late preclinical development, and an investigational new drug (IND) application is expected to be filed with the FDA in the first half of 2020. In August 2019, Ultragenyx and GeneTx announced a partnership to develop GTX-102 with Ultragenyx receiving an exclusive option to acquire GeneTx.
About Orphan Drug Designation
The FDA Orphan Drug Designation program provides orphan status to drugs and biologics that are intended for the safe and effective treatment, diagnosis, or prevention of rare diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S. Among the benefits of orphan designation in the U.S. are seven years of market exclusivity following FDA approval, waiver or partial payment of application fees, and tax credits for clinical testing expenses conducted after orphan designation is received.
About Rare Pediatric Disease Designation
The FDA defines a "rare pediatric disease" as a serious or life-threatening rare disease in which the serious or life-threatening manifestations primarily affect individuals aged from birth to 18 years. Under the FDA's Rare Pediatric Disease Priority Review Voucher program, a sponsor who receives an approval for a drug or biologic for a "rare pediatric disease" may qualify for a voucher that can be redeemed to receive a priority review of a subsequent marketing application for a different product.
About Angelman Syndrome
Angelman syndrome is a rare, neurogenetic disorder caused by loss-of-function of the maternally inherited allele of the UBE3A gene. The maternal-specific inheritance pattern of Angelman syndrome is due to genomic imprinting of UBE3A in neurons of the central nervous system, a naturally occurring phenomenon in which the maternal UBE3A allele is expressed and the paternal UBE3A is not. Silencing of the paternal UBE3A allele is regulated by the UBE3A antisense transcript (UBE3A-AS), the target of GTX-102. In almost all cases of Angelman syndrome the maternal UBE3A allele is either missing or mutated, resulting in limited to no protein expression. This condition is typically not inherited but instead occurs spontaneously.
Individuals with Angelman syndrome have developmental delay, balance issues, motor impairment, and debilitating seizures. Some individuals with Angelman syndrome are unable to walk and most do not speak. Anxiety and disturbed sleep can be serious challenges in individuals with Angelman syndrome. While individuals with Angelman syndrome have a normal lifespan, they require continuous care and are unable to live independently. Angelman syndrome is not a degenerative disorder, but the loss of the UBE3A protein expression in neurons results in abnormal communications between neurons. Angelman syndrome is often misdiagnosed as autism or cerebral palsy. There are no currently approved therapies for Angelman syndrome; however, several symptoms of this disorder can be reversed in adult animal models of Angelman syndrome suggesting that improvement of symptoms can potentially be achieved at any age.
GTX-102 is an investigational antisense oligonucleotide designed to target and inhibit expression UBE3A-AS. Studies show that GTX-102 reduces the levels of UBE3A-AS and reactivates expression of the paternal UBE3A allele in neurons of the CNS. Reactivation of paternal UBE3A expression with a UBE3A-AS in animal models of Angelman syndrome has been associated with improvements in some of the neurological symptoms associated with the condition. GTX-102 has been granted Orphan Drug Designation and Rare Pediatric Disease Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
About GeneTx Biotherapeutics
GeneTx Biotherapeutics LLC is a startup biotechnology company singularly focused on developing and commercializing a safe and effective antisense therapeutic for the treatment of Angelman syndrome. GeneTx was launched by FAST, a patient advocacy organization and the largest non-governmental funder of Angelman syndrome research. GeneTx licensed the rights to antisense technology intellectual property from The Texas A&M University System in December 2017.
About Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc.
Ultragenyx is a biopharmaceutical company committed to bringing patients novel products for the treatment of serious rare and ultra-rare genetic diseases. The company has built a diverse portfolio of approved therapies and product candidates aimed at addressing diseases with high unmet medical need and clear biology for treatment, for which there are typically no approved therapies treating the underlying disease.
The company is led by a management team experienced in the development and commercialization of rare disease therapeutics. Ultragenyx's strategy is predicated upon time and cost-efficient drug development, with the goal of delivering safe and effective therapies to patients with the utmost urgency.
Ultragenyx Forward-Looking Statements
Except for the historical information contained herein, the matters set forth in this press release, including statements related to Ultragenyx's expectations regarding plans for its clinical programs and clinical studies, future regulatory interactions, and the components and timing of regulatory submissions are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements involve substantial risks and uncertainties that could cause our clinical development programs, collaboration with third parties, including our partnership with GeneTx, future results, performance or achievements to differ significantly from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, among others, the uncertainties inherent in the clinical drug development process, such as the regulatory approval process, the timing of regulatory filings and approvals (including whether such approvals can be obtained), and other matters that could affect sufficiency of existing cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments to fund operations and the availability or commercial potential of our products and drug candidates. Ultragenyx undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements. For a further description of the risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ from those expressed in these forward-looking statements, as well as risks relating to the business of Ultragenyx in general, see Ultragenyx's Quarterly Report filed on Form 10-Q with the Securities and Exchange Commission on August 2, 2019, and its subsequent periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.