OTTAWA, Sept. 12, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Akcea Therapeutics Canada, the Canadian subsidiary of Akcea Therapeutics, Inc., an affiliate of Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., focused on developing and commercializing drugs to treat patients with serious cardiometabolic diseases caused by lipid disorders, today announced the filing of a New Drug Submission (NDS) to Health Canada for volanesorsen, an investigational medicine for the treatment of familial chylomicronemia syndrome (FCS). Health Canada has also granted priority review for the volanesorsen NDS. Priority review provides for the "fast-tracking" of eligible regulatory filings in Canada intended for the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of serious, life-threatening or severely debilitating diseases or conditions.
“We applaud Health Canada for granting priority review for the NDS filing for volanesorsen. This decision underscores the significant medical need that exists for Canadians suffering with FCS, a disease characterized by severe chronic and daily symptoms, including the risk of potentially fatal episodes of acute pancreatitis. The evidence of the potential for volanesorsen to benefit individuals with FCS began with a Phase 2 study in Canada, and the overall clinical program has included six trial sites in Canada. In fact, many of the patients enrolled in the landmark, multi-national, Phase 3 APPROACH study in FCS were from Canada,” said Jared Rhines, general manager, Akcea Therapeutics, Canada. “We are on track for a potential launch of volanesorsen in 2018, so that, if approved, we can get this important medicine to patients as quickly as possible.”
FCS is a severe, rare disorder characterized by extremely high levels of triglycerides, symptoms such as abdominal pain that affect daily living, and the risk of recurrent, potentially fatal, acute pancreatitis. People with FCS are unable to effectively metabolize large, triglyceride-rich lipid particles called chylomicrons due to a deficiency in lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that helps to break down triglycerides. There is no effective therapy available.
“Patients with FCS have triglyceride levels that can reach 20 to 30 times those of healthy individuals. This predisposes them to episodes of acute pancreatitis, which is potentially fatal” said Dr. Robert Hegele, distinguished professor of medicine and biochemistry, Western University and the director of Lipid Genetics Clinic and staff endocrinologist at the London Health Sciences Centre. “Today, there is no effective therapy for FCS patients, so I’m encouraged that we are now very close to having, for the first time, a therapeutic option for FCS patients that can substantially reduce triglycerides to levels that markedly reduce the risk for pancreatitis and could relieve some of the other symptoms that FCS patients live with on a daily basis.”
“We are encouraged that Health Canada has granted priority status to volanesorsen, thereby recognizing the serious, severely debilitating nature of FCS and the potential role this new therapy could play,” says Durhane Wong-Rieger, president of the Canadian Organization of Rare Disorders and chair of the Canadian Heart Patient Alliance. “I have met several individuals with FCS, and have heard many of their stories of intense pain, their utter lack of control in preventing an attack and their fear of the inevitable consequences of their disease.”
ABOUT THE VOLANESORSEN CLINICAL PROGRAM
The submission of volanesorsen for the treatment of FCS is based on data from the Phase 3 APPROACH and COMPASS studies. The pivotal APPROACH study, a one-year, randomized, placebo-controlled study in 66 patients with FCS (average baseline triglycerides of 2,209 mg/dL, or 25.0 mmol/L), achieved its primary endpoint of reduction in triglycerides at three months, with a 77% mean reduction in triglycerides, which translated into a 1,712 mg/dL (19.3 mmol/L) mean absolute triglyceride reduction in volanesorsen-treated patients. The treatment difference is 94% compared to an 18% increase for placebo. In addition, in the APPROACH study, treatment with volanesorsen was associated with a statistically significant reduced rate of on-study pancreatitis attacks in the group of patients who had multiple pancreatitis events during the 5 years prior to screening and reduced abdominal pain in patients reporting pain during the screening period.
The COMPASS study, a six-month randomized placebo-controlled study in 113 patients with very high triglycerides (>500 mg/dL), also achieved its primary endpoint of reduction in triglycerides at three months, with a 71% mean reduction in triglycerides. In the COMPASS study, treatment with volanesorsen was associated with a statistically significant reduction in on-study pancreatitis attacks.
The most common adverse event in the studies was injection site reactions, which were mostly mild. Platelet count reductions were observed in many patients. These platelet declines were not clinically significant in most patients and were generally well managed with monitoring and dose adjustment. Five patients discontinued participation in the APPROACH study due to platelet count reductions, two of which were severe; four patients discontinued due to other nonserious adverse events.
Akcea and Ionis continue to conduct the BROADEN study, a Phase 3 clinical trial in patients with familial partial lipodystrophy (FPL), which continues to enroll, with topline data expected in 2019. Akcea plans to file for marketing authorization for volanesorsen to treat FPL in 2019 if the data from the BROADEN study are positive.
The U.S. and EU regulatory agencies have granted Orphan Drug Designation to volanesorsen for the treatment of patients with FCS. Volanesorsen has also received Orphan Drug Designation in the EU for the treatment of FPL.
ABOUT VOLANESORSEN, FCS AND FPL
Volanesorsen, a product of Ionis’ proprietary antisense technology, is in development for two rare metabolic disorders: FCS and FPL. Volanesorsen is designed to reduce the production of ApoC-III, a protein produced in the liver that plays a central role in the regulation of plasma triglycerides and may also affect other metabolic parameters.
FCS is a severe, rare disorder characterized by extremely high levels of triglycerides, daily symptoms such as abdominal pain, and the risk of recurrent, potentially fatal, acute pancreatitis. People with FCS are unable to effectively metabolize large, triglyceride-rich lipid particles called chylomicrons due to a deficiency in lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that helps to break down triglycerides. There is no effective therapy available. Additional information on FCS is available at www.fcsfocus.com and through the FCS Foundation at http://www.livingwithfcs.org and the LPLD Alliance at www.lpldalliance.org.
FPL is a severe, rare genetic metabolic disorder characterized by an inability of the body to store fat in normal locations. This results in high levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream, abnormal fat distribution around and within organs, such as the liver and heart, and a range of metabolic abnormalities, including severe insulin resistance. People with FPL are at increased risk of acute pancreatitis in addition to other long-term, progressive manifestations, such as premature cardiomyopathy, atherosclerosis, and liver disease. Additional information on FPL is available through Lipodystrophy United at www.lipodystrophyunited.org.
ABOUT AKCEA THERAPEUTICS
Akcea Therapeutics, an affiliate of Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing drugs to treat patients with serious cardiometabolic diseases caused by lipid disorders. Akcea is advancing a mature pipeline of four novel drugs with the potential to treat multiple diseases, including volanesorsen, AKCEA-APO(a)-LRx, AKCEA-ANGPTL3-LRx and AKCEA-APOCIII-LRx. All four drugs were discovered and are being co-developed by Ionis, a leader in antisense therapeutics, based on Ionis’ proprietary antisense technology. The most advanced drug in its pipeline, volanesorsen, is under regulatory review in the U.S., EU and Canada for the treatment of familial chylomicronemia syndrome, or FCS, and is currently in Phase 3 clinical development for the treatment of familial partial lipodystrophy, or FPL. Akcea is building the infrastructure to commercialize its drugs globally with a focus on lipid specialists as the primary call point. Akcea is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Additional information about Akcea is available at www.akceatx.com.
This press release includes forward-looking statements regarding the business of Akcea Therapeutics, Inc. and its affiliates and the therapeutic and commercial potential of volanesorsen and other products in development. Any statement describing Akcea’s goals, expectations, financial or other projections, intentions or beliefs is a forward-looking statement and should be considered an at-risk statement. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, particularly those inherent in the process of discovering, developing and commercializing drugs that are safe and effective for use as human therapeutics, and in the endeavor of building a business around such drugs. Akcea’s forward-looking statements also involve assumptions that, if they never materialize or prove correct, could cause its results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Although Akcea’s forward-looking statements reflect the good faith judgment of its management, these statements are based only on facts and factors currently known by Akcea. As a result, you are cautioned not to rely on these forward-looking statements. These and other risks concerning Akcea’s programs are described in additional detail in its final prospectus for its initial public offering and its most recent quarterly report on Form 10-Q, which is on file with the SEC.
In this press release, unless the context requires otherwise, “Akcea,” “Company,” “we,” “our,” and “us” refers to Akcea Therapeutics.
Akcea Therapeutics™ is a trademark of Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Ionis Pharmaceuticals™ is a trademark of Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Media and Investor Contact:
D. Wade Walke, Ph.D.
Vice President, Corporate Communications and Investor Relations
Akcea Therapeutics, Inc.