It’s been a good year for Intellia: One of its founders, Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D., nabbed the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her CRISPR research.
Now, the biotech she helped build is putting that to work, saying it now plans the world’s first clinical trial for a single-course therapy that “potentially halts and reverses” a condition known as hereditary transthyretin amyloidosis with polyneuropathy (hATTR-PN).
This genetic disorder occurs when a person is born with a specific DNA mutation in the TTR gene, which causes the liver to produce a protein called transthyretin (TTR) in a misfolded form and build up in the body.
hATTR can manifest as polyneuropathy (hATTR-PN), which can lead to nerve damage, or cardiomyopathy (hATTR-CM), which involves heart muscle disease that can lead to heart failure.
This disorder has seen a lot of interest in recent years, with an RNAi approach from Alnylam seeing an approval for Onpattro a few years back, specifically for hATTR in adults with damage to peripheral nerves.
Ionis Pharmaceuticals and its rival RNAi drug Tegsedi also saw an approval in 2018 for a similar indication.
They both battle with Pfizer’s older med tafamidis, which has been approved in Europe for years in polyneuropathy, and the fight could spread to the U.S. soon.
The drug, now marketed as Vyndaqel and Vyndamax, snatched up an FDA nod last May to treat both hereditary and wild-type ATTR patients with a heart condition called cardiomyopathy.
While coming into an increasingly crowed R&D area, Intellia is looking for a next-gen approach, and has been given the go-ahead by regulators ion the U.K, to start a phase 1 this year.
The idea is for Intellia’s candidate NTLA-2001, which is also partnered with Regeneron, to go beyond its rivals and be the first curative treatment for ATTR.
By applying the company’s in vivo liver knockout technology, NTLA-2001 allows for the possibility of lifelong transthyretin (TTR) protein reduction after a single course of treatment. If this works, this could in essence cure patients of the their disease.
The 38-patient is set to start by year’s end.
“Starting our global NTLA-2001 Phase 1 trial for ATTR patients is a major milestone in Intellia’s mission to develop medicines to cure severe and life-threatening diseases,” said Intellia’s president and chief John Leonard, M.D.
“Our trial is the first step toward demonstrating that our therapeutic approach could have a permanent effect, potentially halting and reversing all forms of ATTR. Once we have established safety and the optimal dose, our goal is to expand this study and rapidly move to pivotal studies, in which we aim to enroll both polyneuropathy and cardiomyopathy patients."