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CHMP recommendation for bluebird bio's gene therapy in β-thalassaemia

Published on 01/04/19 at 11:35am

Massachusetts-based bluebird bio has taken a significant leap forward in its pursuit of regulatory authorisation for its first gene therapy, Zynteglo (autologous CD34+ cells encoding β-globin AT87Q gene), securing recommendation from the EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) ) in the treatment of transfusion-dependent β-thalassaemia (TDT).

Specifically, the recommendation referred to the treatment of the blood disorder in patients over 12 years of age who do not have a β0/β0 genotype, for whom haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplantation is appropriate but a human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-matched related HSC donor is not available.

Zynteglo was evaluated under the EMA’s Priority Medicines and Adaptive Pathways programmes, and while it is not binding, the panel’s decision will be considered during the upcoming full review by the EMA, expected in Q2 this year.

The gene therapy introduces copies of a modified form of β-globin gene (β-globin AT87Q) into the patient’s own haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which does not require donor cells, unlike allogeneic HSC transplantation. Patients receive chemotherapy prior to the transduction of the modified cells, and following their intraveneous infusion, patients are able to produce gene therapy-derived haemoglobin (HbA) at a level which reduces or eliminates the need for further fusion.

“For many of my patients, living with TDT means a lifetime of chronic blood transfusions, iron chelation therapy and supportive treatments to manage anaemia and other serious complications of this disease,” said Dr Professor Franco Locatelli, Professor of Pediatrics, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy and Director, Department of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Cell and Gene Therapy, IRCCS Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù in Rome. “The burden placed on these patients and their families is significant. It extends beyond immediate health implications to their daily lives, which are affected by the symptoms, hospitalisations and necessary chronic care required for TDT.”

Nicola Redfern, bluebird bio UK General Manager, also commented: “The positive CHMP opinion is an important milestone on the path to Marketing Authorisation to bring the first gene therapy to people living with transfusion-dependent β-thalassaemia here in the UK. It is our aspiration that this treatment will reduce or eliminate the need for chronic blood transfusions. This news brings us a step closer to achieving our goal of making a real difference to people’s lives when they are faced with long term rare genetic conditions.”

Matt Fellows

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