According to the National Institute of Health’s National Cancer Institute, in the United States, there will be an estimated 5,930 new cases of ALL and an estimated 1,500 related deaths in 2019. Patients are predominantly children; approximately 60% of cases occur at age < 20 years. ALL occurs when the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell. Despite a high rate of response to induction chemotherapy, only 30–40% of adult patients with ALL will achieve long-term remission. Similarly, pediatric patients typically respond well to first-line treatment (combination chemotherapy) but 10 to 20% of total patients relapse with chemotherapy-resistant disease, leading to a significant unmet need in pediatric patients with high-risk relapsed or refractory ALL.
“We are pleased to receive orphan drug designation for AUTO1 for acute lymphoblastic leukemia,” said Dr. Christian Itin, chairman and chief executive officer of Autolus. “From the data reported in our ongoing studies, we have seen strong remission rates and excellent CAR T cell expansion and persistence without inducing high-grade CRS, a serious adverse event affecting a significant number of patients on currently available CAR T treatments. We look forward to presenting data on AUTO1 at ASH at the end of the year.”
Orphan drug designation is granted by the FDA Office of Orphan Products Development to drugs and biologics which are intended for the treatment, diagnosis or prevention of rare diseases/disorders that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S. Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may provide grant funding toward clinical trial costs, tax advantages, FDA user-fee benefits, and seven years of market exclusivity in the United States following marketing approval by the FDA. For more information about orphan designation, please visit the FDA website at www.fda.gov.