CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AVROBIO, Inc. (Nasdaq: AVRO), a leading clinical-stage gene therapy company with a mission to free people from a lifetime of genetic disease, today announced that the European Commission (EC) has granted orphan drug designation for AVR-RD-02, the company’s investigational gene therapy for the treatment of Gaucher disease. AVR-RD-02 consists of the patient’s own hematopoietic stem cells, genetically modified to express glucocerebrosidase (GCase), the enzyme that is deficient in Gaucher disease. AVROBIO recently dosed the first patient in the GuardOne Phase 1/2 clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of AVR-RD-02.
“Like many lysosomal disorders, Gaucher disease can lead to debilitating complications throughout the body and brain. The standard of care does not address all these symptoms and may not be able to halt progression of the disease,” said Geoff MacKay, AVROBIO’s president and CEO. “Our investigational gene therapy is designed to address the head-to-toe manifestations of Gaucher disease with a single dose. We’re pleased to receive orphan drug designation, which recognizes the potential of our approach to transform the standard of care – and, we hope, the quality of life – for people living with this rare genetic disorder.”
The EC grants orphan drug designation to drugs and biologics intended for the safe and effective treatment, diagnosis or prevention of rare diseases or conditions that impact fewer than 5 in 10,000 patients in the European Union. Orphan drug designation gives companies certain benefits, including reduced regulatory fees, clinical protocol assistance, research grants and 10 years of market exclusivity following regulatory approval.
AVR-RD-02 has also received orphan drug designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
About Gaucher Disease
Gaucher disease is a rare, inherited lysosomal storage disorder characterized by the toxic accumulation of glucosylceramide (GlcCer) and glucosylsphingosine (GlcSph) in macrophages. Macrophages bloated with these fatty substances are called Gaucher cells which amass primarily in the spleen, liver and bone marrow. This results in a variety of potential symptoms, including grossly enlarged liver and spleen, bone issues, fatigue, low hemoglobin levels and platelet counts and an adjusted lifetime relative risk of developing Parkinson's disease that may be more than 20 times greater than the general population. Even on enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) – the current standard of care – people with Gaucher disease type 1 typically have a shortened life expectancy and may experience debilitating symptoms that significantly reduce their quality of life. An estimated 1 in 44,000 people are diagnosed with Gaucher disease.
AVR-RD-02 is an investigational lentiviral gene therapy designed to provide a durable therapeutic benefit for people living with Gaucher disease. The therapy starts with the patient’s own hematopoietic stem cells, which are genetically modified to express functional glucocerebrosidase (GCase). Functional GCase reduces levels of glucosylceramide and glucosylsphingosine, the accumulated substances which cause the symptoms of Gaucher disease. AVROBIO is currently evaluating AVR-RD-02 in GuardOne, a Phase 1/2 clinical trial.
About lentiviral gene therapy
Lentiviral vectors are differentiated from other delivery mechanisms because of their large cargo capacity and their ability to integrate the therapeutic gene directly into the patient’s chromosomes. This integration is designed to maintain the therapeutic gene’s presence as the patient’s cells divide, which potentially enables dosing of pediatric patients, whose cells divide rapidly as they grow. Because the therapeutic gene is integrated into the patients’ own stem cells, patients are not excluded from receiving the investigational therapy due to pre-existing antibodies to the vector.
Our vision is to bring personalized gene therapy to the world. We aim to halt or reverse disease throughout the body by driving durable expression of functional protein, even in hard-to-reach tissues and organs including the brain, muscle and bone. Our clinical-stage programs include Fabry disease, Gaucher disease and cystinosis and we also are advancing a preclinical program in Pompe disease. AVROBIO is powered by the plato® gene therapy platform, our foundation designed to scale gene therapy worldwide. We are headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., with an office in Toronto, Ontario. For additional information, visit avrobio.com, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements may be identified by words and phrases such as “aims,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “could,” “designed to,” “estimates,” “expects,” “forecasts,” “goal,” “intends,” “may,” “plans,” “possible,” “potential,” “seeks,” “will,” and variations of these words and phrases or similar expressions that are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements regarding our business strategy for and the potential therapeutic benefits of our prospective product candidates, including AVR-RD-02 for the treatment of Gaucher disease; the anticipated benefits of the European Commission’s grant of orphan drug designation for AVR-RD-02; the design, commencement, enrollment and timing of ongoing or planned clinical trials and regulatory pathways; the timing of patient recruitment and enrollment activities, clinical trial results, and product approvals; the anticipated benefits of our gene therapy platform including the potential impact on our commercialization activities, timing and likelihood of success; the expected benefits and results of our implementation of the plato platform in our clinical trials and gene therapy programs; and the expected safety profile of our investigational gene therapies. Any such statements in this press release that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. Results in pre-clinical or early-stage clinical trials may not be indicative of results from later stage or larger scale clinical trials and do not ensure regulatory approval. You should not place undue reliance on these statements, or the scientific data presented.
Any forward-looking statements in this press release are based on AVROBIO’s current expectations, estimates and projections about our industry as well as management’s current beliefs and expectations of future events only as of today and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially and adversely from those set forth in or implied by such forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the risk that any one or more of AVROBIO’s product candidates will not be successfully developed or commercialized; the risk of cessation or delay of any ongoing or planned clinical trials of AVROBIO or our collaborators; the risk that AVROBIO may not successfully recruit or enroll a sufficient number of patients for our clinical trials; the risk that AVROBIO may not realize the intended benefits of our gene therapy platform, including the features of our plato platform; the risk that our product candidates or procedures in connection with the administration thereof will not have the safety or efficacy profile that we anticipate; the risk that prior results, such as signals of safety, activity or durability of effect, observed from pre-clinical or clinical trials, will not be replicated or will not continue in ongoing or future studies or trials involving AVROBIO’s product candidates; the risk that we will be unable to obtain and maintain regulatory approval for our product candidates; the risk that the size and growth potential of the market for our product candidates will not materialize as expected; risks associated with our dependence on third-party suppliers and manufacturers; risks regarding the accuracy of our estimates of expenses and future revenue; risks relating to our capital requirements and needs for additional financing; risks relating to clinical trial and business interruptions resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak or similar public health crises, including that such interruptions may materially delay our development timeline and/or increase our development costs or that data collection efforts may be impaired or otherwise impacted by such crises; and risks relating to our ability to obtain and maintain intellectual property protection for our product candidates. For a discussion of these and other risks and uncertainties, and other important factors, any of which could cause AVROBIO’s actual results to differ materially and adversely from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see the section entitled “Risk Factors” in AVROBIO’s most recent Quarterly Report, as well as discussions of potential risks, uncertainties and other important factors in AVROBIO’s subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AVROBIO explicitly disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements except to the extent required by law.