AstraZeneca and MSD, Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, US (MSD: known as Merck & Co., Inc. inside the US and Canada) today announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation (BTD) for the MEK 1/2 inhibitor and potential new medicine selumetinib.
This designation is for the treatment of paediatric patients aged three years and older with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) symptomatic and/or progressive, inoperable plexiform neurofibromas (PN), a rare, incurable genetic condition.
José Baselga, Executive Vice President, Research and Development, Oncology, said: “Selumetinib shows promise in the treatment of NF1-related plexiform neurofibromas, a rare and debilitating disease with no approved medications to date. The Breakthrough Therapy Designation acknowledges the significant unmet need of these patients and the potential benefit of selumetinib in this setting.”
Roy Baynes, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Clinical Development, Chief Medical Officer, at MSD Research Laboratories, said: “This new designation validates our ongoing development of selumetinib. As a result of this, selumetinib has the potential to receive expedited regulatory review and we hope to bring this medicine to patients as soon as possible.”
The BTD is based on Phase II data from the SPRINT trial, testing selumetinib as an oral monotherapy in paediatric patients, aged three years or older with inoperable NF1-related PN. The results of the trial were presented by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting.
This is the ninth BTD that AstraZeneca has received from the FDA since 2014. BTD is designed to expedite the development and regulatory review of medicines that are intended to treat a serious condition and that have shown encouraging early clinical results, which may demonstrate substantial improvement on a clinically-significant endpoint over available medicines.
Selumetinib was granted Orphan Drug Designation for the treatment of NF1 by the US FDA in February 2018 and the European Medicines Agency in August 2018.
Selumetinib is a MEK 1/2 inhibitor and potential new medicine licensed by AstraZeneca from Array BioPharma Inc. in 2003. AstraZeneca and MSD entered a co-development and co-commercialisation agreement for selumetinib in 2017.
The NF1 gene provides instructions for making a protein called neurofibromin, which negatively regulates the RAS/MAPK pathway, helping to control cell growth, differentiation and survival. Mutations in the NF1 gene may result in dysregulations in RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK signalling, which can cause cells to grow, divide and copy themselves in an uncontrolled manner, and may result in tumour growth. Selumetinib inhibits the MEK enzyme in this pathway, potentially leading to inhibition of tumour growth.
Selumetinib is being assessed as a monotherapy and in combination with other treatments in ongoing trials.