Myrtelle’s rAAV-Olig001-ASPA Gene Therapy Candidate for Canavan Disease Receives Orphan Drug Designation from the European Medicines Agency
December 14, 2022
WAKEFIELD, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Myrtelle Inc., (“Myrtelle” or the “Company”), a clinical stage gene therapy company focused on developing transformative treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, today announced that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has granted orphan drug (OD) designation for rAAV-Olig001-ASPA, the company’s lead gene therapy product candidate for the treatment of Canavan disease. The OD application is examined by the EMA’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products (COMP) who provides their review to the European Commission for designation approval. EMA OD designation’s aim is to encourage the development of treatments for life-threatening rare conditions by providing incentives such as protocol assistance, reduced fees for regulatory activities, and 10 years of market exclusivity in the EU upon drug approval.
rAAV-Olig001-ASPA is a novel vector from a class of recombinant AAVs (rAAVs) that directly target oligodendrocytes, the brain cells affected in CD which are responsible for producing myelin – the insulating material that enables proper neuronal function. In CD, the production of myelin is impaired due to a mutation in the Aspartoacylase gene (ASPA) that encodes the enzyme Aspartoacylase (ASPA). The deficiency of ASPA enzyme results in multiple biochemical and anatomic changes, including an inability to metabolize N-Acetylaspartate (NAA), a neurochemical that is abundant in the brain and plays an important role in myelin synthesis and brain bioenergetics. The oligodendrocyte-targeting rAAV vector-based gene therapy is intended to restore ASPA function in these cells and thereby improve the metabolism of NAA and myelination in patients with CD.
In addition to EMA’s orphan designation, rAAV-Olig001-ASPA also received EMA’s Advanced Therapy Medicinal Product Classification (ATMP) and US Orphan Drug, Rare Pediatric Disease, and Fast Track designations by the FDA. “The designation by the EMA of rAAV-Olig001-ASPA as an Orphan Drug provides important benefits in the development of this innovative therapy for patients with Canavan disease who currently have significant unmet clinical needs,” said Nancy Barone Kribbs, PhD, Senior Vice President of Global Regulatory Affairs at Myrtelle.
Myrtelle Inc. is a gene therapy company focused on developing transformative treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. The company has a proprietary platform, intellectual property, and portfolio of programs and technologies supporting innovative gene therapy approaches for neurodegenerative and genetic hearing loss diseases. For more information, please visit the Company’s website at: www.myrtellegtx.com.
ABOUT CANAVAN DISEASE
Canavan disease (CD) is a fatal childhood genetic brain disease in which mutations in the Aspartoacylase gene (ASPA) prevent the normal expression of Aspartoacylase (ASPA), a critical enzyme produced in oligodendrocytes that breaks down the neurochemical N-Acetylaspartate (NAA). When not properly metabolized by oligodendrocytes, NAA accumulates in the brain and negatively affects bioenergetics, myelin production, and brain health. Patients with CD are impacted at birth but may appear normal until several months old when symptoms begin to develop. Poor head control, abnormally large head size, difficulty in eye tracking, excessive irritability, severely diminished muscle tone, and delays in reaching motor milestones, such as rolling, sitting, and walking, are the typical initial manifestations of CD. As the disease progresses, seizures, spasticity, difficulties in swallowing, and overall muscle deterioration emerge with most affected children developing life-threatening complications by approximately 10 years of age. Currently, there are no cures for CD, and only palliative treatments are available.
This press release contains forward-looking statements. Words such as “may,” “believe,” “will,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “intend” and similar expressions (as well as other words or expressions referencing future events, conditions, or circumstances) are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based upon current estimates and assumptions and include statements regarding meeting with regulatory agencies to discuss the data and create a potential roadmap for registration and the rAAV-Olig001-ASPA as a potential treatment for patients with Canavan disease (CD). While Myrtelle believes these forward-looking statements are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on any such forward-looking statements, which are based on information available to us on the date of this release. These forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict, that could cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations and assumptions from those set forth or implied by any forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations include, among others, Myrtelle’s program demonstrating safety and efficacy, as well as future results that are consistent with prior results, the ability to generate the data needed for further development of this novel gene therapy in the patients with CD, and the ability to continue its clinical trials and to complete them on time and achieve the desired results. All forward-looking statements are based on Myrtelle’s expectations and assumptions as of the date of this press release. Actual results may differ materially from these forward-looking statements. Except as required by law, Myrtelle expressly disclaims any responsibility to update any forward-looking statement contained herein, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.
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