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    FDA approves first targeted leukemia drug for certain patients, plus 2 more

    Late last week, FDA approved a new drug to treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the first treatment for Batten disease, and expanded the use of a current drug to treat liver cancer.

    Midostaurin (Rydapt, Novartis) was approved to treat adults with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who have a specific genetic mutation called FLT3, in combination with chemotherapy. The drug is approved for use with a companion diagnostic, the LeukoStrat CDx FLT3 Mutation Assay (Invivoscribe Technologies), used to detect the FLT3 mutation in patients with AML.
     
    “Rydapt is the first targeted therapy to treat patients with AML, in combination with chemotherapy,” said Richard Pazdur, MD, acting director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence. “The ability to detect the gene mutation with a diagnostic test means doctors can identify specific patients who may benefit from this treatment.”

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    AML is a rapidly progressing cancer that forms in the bone marrow and results in an increased number of white blood cells in the bloodstream. The National Cancer Institute estimated that approximately 19,930 people would be diagnosed with AML in 2016 and 10,430 were projected to die of the disease.

    FDA also expanded the approved use of regorafenib (Stivarga, Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals) to include treatment of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC or liver cancer) who have been previously treated with the drug sorafenib.

    “This is the first FDA-approved treatment for a liver cancer in almost a decade,” FDA said in a statement.

    Plus, limited treatment options are available for patients with liver cancer, said Richard Pazdur, MD, acting director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence, in the statement.

    According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 40,710 people will be diagnosed with liver cancers in 2017 and approximately 28,920 will die of these diseases. HCC originates in the liver and is the most common form of liver cancer.

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    Stivarga is a kinase inhibitor that works by blocking several enzymes that promote cancer growth, including enzymes in the vascular endothelial growth factor pathway. Stivarga is also approved to treat colorectal cancer and gastrointestinal stromal tumors that are no longer responding to previous treatments.

    Meanwhile, FDA also approved the first treatment for a specific form of Batten disease: cerliponase alfa( Brineura (BioMarin Pharmaceutical), to slow loss of walking ability in symptomatic pediatric patients aged 3 years and older with late infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis type 2 (CLN2), also known as tripeptidyl peptidase-1 (TPP1) deficiency.

    “The FDA is committed to approving new and innovative therapies for patients with rare diseases, particularly where there are no approved treatment options,” said Julie Beitz, MD, director of the Office of Drug Evaluation III in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Approving the first drug for the treatment of this form of Batten disease is an important advance for patients suffering with this condition.”

    CLN2 disease is one of a group of disorders known as neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCLs), collectively referred to as Batten disease. CLN2 disease is a rare inherited disorder that primarily affects the nervous system. In the late infantile form of the disease, signs and symptoms typically begin between ages 2 and 4.

    Batten disease is relatively rare, occurring in an estimated 2 to 4 of every 100,000 live births in the United States.

    The efficacy of Brineura was established in a non-randomized, single-arm dose escalation clinical study in 22 symptomatic pediatric patients with CLN2 disease and compared to 42 untreated patients with CLN2 disease from a natural history cohort (an independent historical control group) who were at least aged 3 years old and had motor or language symptoms.

    Taking into account age, baseline walking ability and genotype, Brineura-treated patients demonstrated fewer declines in walking ability compared to untreated patients in the natural history cohort.

    Read more: Lung cancer drug approved

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