AstraZeneca and Ionis sign deal to develop and commercialise eplontersen

Liver-targeted antisense therapy in Phase III development for the treatment of transthyretin amyloidosis, a systemic, progressive and fatal condition

AstraZeneca has entered into a new global development and commercialisation agreement with Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Ionis) for eplontersen, formerly known as IONIS-TTR-LRX. Eplontersen is a ligand-conjugated antisense investigational medicine currently in Phase III clinical trials for amyloid transthyretin cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM) and amyloid transthyretin polyneuropathy (ATTR-PN). It is designed to reduce the production of transthyretin (TTR protein) to treat both hereditary and non-hereditary forms of TTR amyloidosis (ATTR).

The companies will jointly develop and commercialise eplontersen in the US, while AstraZeneca will develop and commercialise it in the rest of the world, except in Latin America.

ATTR-CM is a systemic, progressive and fatal condition that leads to progressive heart failure and death within four years from diagnosis.1 It remains underdiagnosed and its prevalence is thought to be underestimated due to a lack of disease awareness and the heterogeneity of symptoms.2 Hereditary ATTR-PN is a debilitating disease that leads to peripheral nerve damage with motor disability within five years of diagnosis and, without treatment, is generally fatal within a decade.3

Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca, said: “Eplontersen has the potential to halt the progression of TTR-mediated amyloidosis, irrespective of whether it’s caused by genetic mutations or aging. Thanks to its precise liver-targeting properties, it also has the potential to be a best-in-class treatment for patients suffering from this devastating disease and who currently have limited options.”

Hereditary ATTR-PN is expected to be the first indication for which the companies will seek regulatory approval for eplontersen, with the potential to file a new drug application with the US Food and Drug Administration by the end of 2022.

Financial considerations

AstraZeneca will pay Ionis an upfront payment of $200m and additional conditional payments of up to $485m following regulatory approvals. It will also pay up to $2.9bn of sales-related milestones based on sales thresholds between $500m and $6bn, plus royalties in the range of low double-digit to mid-twenties percentage depending on the region. The collaboration includes territory-specific development, commercial and medical affairs cost-sharing provisions.

The transaction will be funded with cash and is expected to be neutral to Core earnings in 2021. It will be accounted for as an intangible asset acquisition, recognised initially at the upfront amount, with any potential future milestone payments capitalised into the intangible asset as they are recognised.

Ionis will continue to manufacture and supply eplontersen for the existing clinical studies and process qualification. AstraZeneca will be responsible for commercial supply, with transition timing to be agreed by both parties. AstraZeneca will book all sales generated under the agreement.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory clearances. The transaction does not impact the AstraZeneca’s financial guidance for 2021.

Notes

Eplontersen

Eplontersen is a ligand-conjugated antisense (LICA) investigational medicine designed to reduce the production of transthyretin, or TTR protein, to treat all types of ATTR, a systemic, progressive and fatal disease.

TTR Amyloidosis (ATTR)

Cardiomyopathy and polyneuropathy due to ATTR are caused by aging or genetic mutations resulting in misfolded TTR protein and accumulation as amyloid fibrils in the cardiac myocardium and peripheral nerves, respectively. In patients with ATTR, both the mutant and wild type TTR protein builds up as fibrils in tissues, such as the peripheral nerves, heart, gastrointestinal system, eyes, kidneys, central nervous system, thyroid and bone marrow. The presence of TTR fibrils interferes with the normal functions of these tissues. As the TTR protein fibrils enlarge, more tissue damage occurs and the disease worsens, resulting in poor quality of life and eventually death. Worldwide, there are an estimated 300,000 - 500,000 patients with ATTR-CM4,5 and 10,000 - 40,000 patients with ATTR-PN2.

AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca (LSE/STO/Nasdaq: AZN) is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialisation of prescription medicines in Oncology, Rare Diseases, and BioPharmaceuticals, including Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism, and Respiratory & Immunology. Based in Cambridge, UK, AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. Please visit astrazeneca.com and follow the Company on Twitter @AstraZeneca.

 

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References

1. Lauppe RE, et al. Nationwide prevalence and characteristics of transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy in Sweden. Open Heart. 2021 Oct;8(2):e001755. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2021-001755.

2. González-Duarte A, et al. Impact of non-cardiac clinicopathologic characteristics on survival in transthyretin amyloid polyneuropathy. Neurol Ther. 2020;9(1):135-149. doi:10.1007/s40120-020-00183-7.

3. Cortese A, et al. Diagnostic challenges in hereditary transthyretin amyloidosis with polyneuropathy: avoiding misdiagnosis of a treatable hereditary neuropathy. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2017 May;88(5):457-458. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2016-315262.

4. Mohamed-Salem L, et al. Prevalence of wild type ATTR assessed as myocardial uptake in bone scan in the elderly population. Int J Cardiol. 2018 Nov 1;270:192-196. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2018.06.006.

5. Cuscaden C, et al. Estimation of prevalence of transthyretin (ATTR) cardiac amyloidosis in an Australian subpopulation using bone scans with echocardiography and clinical correlation. J Nucl Cardiol. 2020 May 8. doi: 10.1007/s12350-020-02152-x. 

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