Hereditary transthyretin (TTR)-mediated amyloidosis (hATTR) is an inherited, progressively debilitating, and often fatal disease caused by mutations in the TTR gene. TTR protein is primarily produced in the liver and is normally a carrier of vitamin A. Mutations in the TTR gene cause abnormal amyloid proteins to accumulate and damage body organs and tissue, such as the peripheral nerves and heart, resulting in intractable peripheral sensory neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, and/or cardiomyopathy, as well as other disease manifestations. hATTR amyloidosis represents a major unmet medical need with significant morbidity and mortality. The median survival is 4.7 years following diagnosis. Until now, people living with hATTR amyloidosis in the U.S. had no FDA-approved treatment options.
RNAi (RNA interference) is a natural cellular process of gene silencing that represents one of the most promising and rapidly advancing frontiers in biology and drug development today. Its discovery has been heralded as “a major scientific breakthrough that happens once every decade or so,” and was recognized with the award of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Thomas Tuschl and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen succeeded in demonstrating that this mechanism also functions in mammals and, therefore, in humans. Alnylam is the exclusive licensee of the therapeutic and diagnostic application of Max Planck Society´s groundbreaking patents, which are a central component of Alnylam’s technology portfolio for the development, manufacture, and marketing of RNAi therapeutics. Small interfering RNA (siRNA), the molecules that mediate RNAi and comprise Alnylam's RNAi therapeutic platform, function upstream of today’s medicines by potently silencing messenger RNA (mRNA) – the genetic precursors – that encode for disease-causing proteins, thus preventing them from being made. This is a revolutionary approach in developing medicines to improve the care of patients with genetic and other diseases.
“Alnylam was founded on the vision of harnessing the potential of RNAi therapeutics to treat human disease, and this approval heralds the arrival of an entirely new class of medicines. We believe today draws us ever-closer to achieving our Alnylam 2020 goals of becoming a fully integrated, multi-product biopharmaceutical company with a sustainable pipeline,” said John Maraganore, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Alnylam. “With the potential for the sequential launches of several new medicines in the coming years, we believe we have the opportunity to meaningfully impact the lives of people around the world in need of new approaches to address serious diseases with significant unmet medical needs.”
The FDA approval of ONPATTRO was based on positive results from the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, global Phase 3 APOLLO study, the largest-ever study in hATTR amyloidosis patients with polyneuropathy. Results from the APOLLO study were published in the July 5, 2018, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. In APOLLO, the safety and efficacy of ONPATTRO were evaluated in a diverse, global population of hATTR amyloidosis patients in 19 countries, with a total of 39 TTR mutations. “FDA approval of ONPATTRO represents an entirely new approach to treating patients with polyneuropathy in hATTR amyloidosis and shows promise as a new era in patient care,” said John Berk, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and assistant director of the Amyloidosis Center at Boston University School of Medicine. “Given the strength of the APOLLO data, including data showing the possibility of halting or improving disease progression in many patients, ONPATTRO holds tremendous promise for people living with this disease.”
“It is very gratifying to see that Max Planck spin-off company Alnylam succeded in bringing the first-ever RNAi-based drug to the market. Being the first FDA approved drug against the severe disease hATTR amyloidosis Alnylam´s new product ONPATTRO has the potential to bring relief to many patients in the US and, as the company files for approval of patisiran by other Regulatory agencies, hopefully across the world. Having a strong therapeutic pipeline with several RNAi candidates in advanced stages we are looking forward to see Alnylam bring more RNAi-based drugs on the market soon,” says Dr Jörn Erselius, CEO of Max Planck Innovation, the technology transfer organization of the Max Planck Society.
Alnylam (Nasdaq: ALNY) is leading the translation of RNA interference (RNAi) into a whole new class of innovative medicines with the potential to improve the lives of people afflicted with rare genetic, cardio-metabolic, and hepatic infectious diseases. Based on Nobel Prize-winning science, RNAi therapeutics represent a powerful, clinically validated approach for the treatment of a wide range of severe and debilitating diseases. Founded in 2002, Alnylam is delivering on a bold vision to turn scientific possibility into reality, with a robust discovery platform. ONPATTRO, available in the U.S. for the treatment of the polyneuropathy of hereditary transthyretin-mediated (hATTR) amyloidosis in adults, is Alnylam’s first U.S. FDA-approved RNAi therapeutic. Alnylam has a deep pipeline of investigational medicines, including three product candidates that are in late-stage development. Looking forward, Alnylam will continue to execute on its "Alnylam 2020" strategy of building a multi-product, commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company with a sustainable pipeline of RNAi-based medicines to address the needs of patients who have limited or inadequate treatment options. Alnylam employs over 800 people worldwide and is headquartered in Cambridge, MA. For more information about our people, science and pipeline, please visit www.alnylam.com and engage with us on Twitter at @Alnylam or on LinkedIn.
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