CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALNY), a leading RNAi therapeutics company, announced today that it has initiated a Phase 1/2 clinical trial with ALN-AAT, a subcutaneously administered investigational RNAi therapeutic targeting alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) for the treatment of AAT deficiency-associated liver disease (alpha-1 liver disease). The Phase 1/2 trial will be conducted initially in normal healthy volunteers, and, then, in patients with alpha-1 liver disease. Initiation of this trial is based on encouraging pre-clinical data presented at the Digestive Disease Week (DDW) meeting May 16 – 19, 2015. The company expects to present initial clinical data from this trial in early 2016.
"There is great unmet need for any specific treatment for patients with alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency and liver disease, which is caused by misfolding of the mutated Z-antitrypsin protein; accumulation of the misfolded protein in liver cells causes irreversible hepatocyte damage which leads to advanced liver disease in many. Alpha-1 liver disease can manifest as cholestasis, chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma, and occurs in both children and adults where it is currently managed with supportive care or, in the case of liver failure, with liver transplantation," said Professor Graeme Alexander, Consultant Hepatologist, Cambridge University Hospitals, Cambridge, UK. "I am encouraged by the pre-clinical data with ALN-AAT, and hope these results can be repeated in patient studies. This investigational RNAi therapeutic has the potential to become an important treatment option for the management of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency related liver disease.""We believe ALN-AAT has the potential to be a transformative therapy for patients with alpha-1 liver disease, an increasingly recognized clinical manifestation of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency where liver transplantation is the only available treatment option. Our pre-clinical results, including new data presented at this year's DDW meeting, demonstrate that monthly subcutaneous dosing of ALN-AAT achieves robust knockdown of serum AAT – the disease-causing protein – of up to 93% in NHPs, with highly durable effects and a wide therapeutic index. We are aiming to replicate these results in our Phase 1/2 study," said Akshay Vaishnaw, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Vice President of R&D and Chief Medical Officer of Alnylam. "ALN-AAT is now the seventh clinical program in our rapidly growing pipeline of investigational RNAi therapeutics. We expect to share initial data from the Phase 1/2 trial in early 2016."
ALN-AAT is a subcutaneously administered investigational RNAi therapeutic that utilizes Alnylam's proprietary ESC-GalNAc-siRNA conjugate delivery technology. ESC-GalNAc-siRNA conjugates are designed to achieve targeted delivery of RNAi therapeutics to hepatocytes through uptake by the asialoglycoprotein receptor, and enable subcutaneous dosing with increased potency and durability and a wide therapeutic index.
As per the filed CTA, the Phase 1/2 trial of ALN-AAT is a randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled study being conducted in three parts. Parts A and B are single-dose (Part A) and multi-dose (Part B), dose-escalation studies, designed to enroll up to a total of 48 healthy adult volunteers. Part C will be a multi-dose study designed to enroll up to a total of 24 adults with alpha-1 liver disease and mild-to-moderate liver fibrosis. The primary objective of the study is to evaluate safety and tolerability of single and multiple subcutaneous doses of ALN-AAT. Secondary objectives include evaluation of pharmacokinetics and clinical activity for ALN-AAT as measured by knockdown of serum AAT. In addition, biopsies will be obtained from subjects with alpha-1 liver disease to quantify the effects of treatment on levels of periodic acid-Schiff (PAS)-stained globules, a measure of misfolded AAT accumulation observed in the livers of alpha-1 liver disease patients.
"The Alpha-1 community is in clear need of a treatment option to improve the disease course and quality of life for both children and adults with Alpha-1 liver disease," said John Walsh, CEO and co-founder of the Alpha-1 Foundation. "We are all pleased with Alnylam's progress to date with ALN-AAT, and will continue to closely follow this program through the course of its clinical development."
In January 2014, Alnylam and Genzyme, a Sanofi company, formed an alliance to accelerate and expand the development and commercialization of RNAi therapeutics across the world. The alliance is structured as a multi-product geographic alliance in the field of rare diseases. Alnylam retains product rights in North America and Western Europe, while Genzyme obtained the right to access certain programs in Alnylam's current and future Genetic Medicines pipeline, including ALN-AAT, in the rest of the world. In certain defined instances, Genzyme has co-development/co-commercialization and/or global product rights. Genzyme's rights are structured as an opt-in that is triggered upon achievement of human proof-of-principle.
About Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT), AAT Deficiency, and Alpha-1 Liver Disease
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is an autosomal disorder that results in disease of the lungs and liver. AAT is a liver-produced serine proteinase inhibitor with the primary function of protecting the lungs from neutrophil elastase and other irritants that cause inflammation. About 95% of people with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency are homozygous and carry two copies of the abnormal Z allele (PiZZ) which expresses the Z-AAT protein. In the liver, misfolding of the mutant Z-AAT protein hinders its normal release into the blood thereby causing it to aggregate in hepatocytes, leading to liver injury, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). There are estimated to be approximately 120,000 individuals with the PiZZ mutation in the U.S. and major European countries, and of these, about 10% have an associated liver pathology (alpha-1 liver disease) caused by the misfolded Z-AAT protein. The only treatment options presently available for alpha-1 liver disease patients are supportive care and, in the case of advanced cirrhosis, liver transplantation. RNAi-mediated inhibition of AAT in people with alpha-1 liver disease may represent a promising new way to treat this rare disease.
About The Alpha-1 Project
Mission statement: The Alpha-1 Project will work with patients, academia, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and public health organizations in the relentless pursuit of cures and therapies for COPD and liver disease caused by Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. For more information, visit www.thealpha-1project.com. The Alpha-1 Project is a wholly-owned for-profit subsidiary of the Alpha-1 Foundation. For more information on the Foundation, visit www.alpha-1foundation.org.
About GalNAc Conjugates and Enhanced Stabilization Chemistry (ESC)-GalNAc Conjugates
GalNAc-siRNA conjugates are a proprietary Alnylam delivery platform and are designed to achieve targeted delivery of RNAi therapeutics to hepatocytes through uptake by the asialoglycoprotein receptor. Alnylam's Enhanced Stabilization Chemistry (ESC)-GalNAc-conjugate technology enables subcutaneous dosing with increased potency and durability, and a wide therapeutic index. This delivery platform is being employed in nearly all of Alnylam's pipeline programs, including programs in clinical development.
RNAi (RNA interference) is a revolution in biology, representing a breakthrough in understanding how genes are turned on and off in cells, and a completely new approach to drug discovery and development. Its discovery has been heralded as "a major scientific breakthrough that happens once every decade or so," and represents one of the most promising and rapidly advancing frontiers in biology and drug discovery today which was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. RNAi is a natural process of gene silencing that occurs in organisms ranging from plants to mammals. By harnessing the natural biological process of RNAi occurring in our cells, the creation of a major new class of medicines, known as RNAi therapeutics, is on the horizon. Small interfering RNA (siRNA), the molecules that mediate RNAi and comprise Alnylam's RNAi therapeutic platform, target the cause of diseases by potently silencing specific mRNAs, thereby preventing disease-causing proteins from being made. RNAi therapeutics have the potential to treat disease and help patients in a fundamentally new way.
About Alnylam Pharmaceuticals
Alnylam is a biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics based on RNA interference, or RNAi. The company is leading the translation of RNAi as a new class of innovative medicines. Alnylam's pipeline of investigational RNAi therapeutics is focused in 3 Strategic Therapeutic Areas (STArs): Genetic Medicines, with a broad pipeline of RNAi therapeutics for the treatment of rare diseases; Cardio-Metabolic Disease, with a pipeline of RNAi therapeutics toward genetically validated, liver-expressed disease targets for unmet needs in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases; and Hepatic Infectious Disease, with a pipeline of RNAi therapeutics that address the major global health challenges of hepatic infectious diseases. In early 2015, Alnylam launched its "Alnylam 2020" guidance for the advancement and commercialization of RNAi therapeutics as a whole new class of innovative medicines. Specifically, by the end of 2020, Alnylam expects to achieve a company profile with 3 marketed products, 10 RNAi therapeutic clinical programs – including 4 in late stages of development – across its 3 STArs. The company's demonstrated commitment to RNAi therapeutics has enabled it to form major alliances with leading companies including Merck, Medtronic, Novartis, Biogen, Roche, Takeda, Kyowa Hakko Kirin, Cubist, GlaxoSmithKline, Ascletis, Monsanto, The Medicines Company, and Genzyme, a Sanofi company. In addition, Alnylam holds an equity position in Regulus Therapeutics Inc., a company focused on discovery, development, and commercialization of microRNA therapeutics. Alnylam scientists and collaborators have published their research on RNAi therapeutics in over 200 peer-reviewed papers, including many in the world's top scientific journals such as Nature, Nature Medicine, Nature Biotechnology, Cell, New England Journal of Medicine, and The Lancet. Founded in 2002, Alnylam maintains headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information about Alnylam's pipeline of investigational RNAi therapeutics, please visit www.alnylam.com.
Alnylam Forward-Looking Statements
Various statements in this release concerning Alnylam's future expectations, plans and prospects, including without limitation, Alnylam's views with respect to the potential for RNAi therapeutics, including ALN-AAT for the treatment of AAT deficiency-associated liver disease, its expectations regarding the reporting of initial data from its ALN-AAT Phase 1/2 clinical study, its expectations regarding the potential market opportunity for ALN-AAT, its expectations regarding its STAr pipeline growth strategy, and its plans regarding commercialization of RNAi therapeutics, constitute forward-looking statements for the purposes of the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including, without limitation, Alnylam's ability to discover and develop novel drug candidates and delivery approaches, successfully demonstrate the efficacy and safety of its drug candidates, the pre-clinical and clinical results for its product candidates, which may not be replicated or continue to occur in other subjects or in additional studies or otherwise support further development of product candidates, actions of regulatory agencies, which may affect the initiation, timing and progress of clinical trials, obtaining, maintaining and protecting intellectual property, Alnylam's ability to enforce its patents against infringers and defend its patent portfolio against challenges from third parties, obtaining regulatory approval for products, competition from others using technology similar to Alnylam's and others developing products for similar uses, Alnylam's ability to manage operating expenses, Alnylam's ability to obtain additional funding to support its business activities and establish and maintain strategic business alliances and new business initiatives, Alnylam's dependence on third parties for development, manufacture, marketing, sales and distribution of products, the outcome of litigation, and unexpected expenditures, as well as those risks more fully discussed in the "Risk Factors" filed with Alnylam's most recent Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and in other filings that Alnylam makes with the SEC. In addition, any forward-looking statements represent Alnylam's views only as of today and should not be relied upon as representing its views as of any subsequent date. Alnylam explicitly disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements.