BARCELONA, Spain – Leukos Biotech, a spin-off company founded by the Barcelona based Jose Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute and supported by VCF Inveready, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Orphan Drug Designation (ODD) for LK-01, a product based on Apomorphine, for the treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) is a blood cancer arising from the myeloid lineage of haematopoietic stem cells. Most patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) die from progressive disease after relapse, which is associated with a small sub-fraction of leukemic cells termed leukemic stem cells (LSC). Current therapeutics target only the rapidly proliferating leukemic progenitors (blasts) , and not the more chemoresistant LSC. Therefore the pharmaceutical industry is making a serious effort to develop drugs which selectively target the LSC compartment with minimum toxicity to the healthy stem cells.
Leukos Biotech has shown that LSC overexpress Serotonin receptors and that apomorphine acts as an inhibitor of these, provoking the death of LSC. LK-01 is a new solid form of apomorphine that can be administered as a subcutaneous injection, and maintain clinically relevant concentrations of apomorphine in blood for several days.
The potential benefit of LK-01 is being explored in a Leukos Biotech-sponsored phase 1/2 trial in elderly patients and relapsed patients with AML. Phase II trial results are expected later in 2019.
The US FDA Orphan Drug Designation provides incentives for companies to develop drugs for rare diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 patients. These incentives may include FDA assistance in clinical trial design, tax credits towards the cost of clinical trials, prescription drug user fee waivers, and potential market exclusivity for seven years following approval.
Leukos US regulatory strategy for LK-01 is supported by Hemex AG, a Swiss consulting company specialised in collaborations with start-ups and spin-offs.