- Posted by ISPE Boston
- On February 21, 2018
Vertex Pharmaceuticals has announced that the FDA approved Symdeko for treating the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis (CF) in certain patients ages 12 and older. Symdeko is Vertex’s third medicine approved to treat the underlying cause of CF.
“Today is an exciting day for the CF community. The approval of Symdeko, our third disease-modifying CF medicine, offers many patients an important new treatment option,” said Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., Vertex’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “This approval is an important milestone in our journey to treat every person with CF, and we remain committed to urgently advancing our efforts to develop new medicines that treat the underlying cause of CF for the many people still waiting.”
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a rare, life-shortening genetic disease affecting approximately 75,000 people in North America, Europe and Australia. It is caused by a defective or missing cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein resulting from mutations in the CFTR gene. Children must inherit two defective CFTR genes — one from each parent — to have CF. There are approximately 2,000 known mutations in the CFTR gene. Some of these mutations, which can be determined by a genetic test, or genotyping test, lead to CF by creating non-working or too few CFTR proteins at the cell surface.
The defective function or absence of CFTR protein results in poor flow of salt and water into and out of the cell in a number of organs. In the lungs, this leads to the buildup of abnormally thick, sticky mucus that can cause chronic lung infections and progressive lung damage in many patients that eventually leads to death. The median age of death is in the mid-to-late 20s.
Some mutations result in CFTR protein that is not processed or folded normally within the cell, and that generally does not reach the cell surface. Symdeko is a combination of tezacaftor and ivacaftor. Tezacaftor is designed to address the trafficking and processing defect of the CFTR protein to enable it to reach the cell surface where ivacaftor can increase the amount of time the protein stays open.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has validated the Marketing Authorization Application (MAA) for the tezacaftor/ivacaftor combination. The company expects approval in the EU in the second half of 2018.
Founded in 1989 in Cambridge, Vertex’s headquarters is now located in Boston’s Innovation District. Today, the company has research and development sites and commercial offices in the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia. Vertex initiated its CF research program in 2000 as part of a collaboration with CFFT, the nonprofit drug discovery and development affiliate of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Kalydeco® (ivacaftor), Orkambi®(lumacaftor/ivacaftor), Symdeko™ (tezacaftor/ivacaftor and ivacaftor) were discovered by Vertex as part of this collaboration. (Source: Vertex Website, 12 February, 2018)