CF Foundation ‘Venture Philanthropy’ Model Crucial to CF Breakthroughs

By Larry Luxner

When the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) was established in 1955, most people with cystic fibrosis (CF) didn’t make it to their sixth birthday. Today, the average life expectancy of a CF patient is 47 years.

To date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved 12 CF therapies. Three of them are CFTR modulators that treat the basic disease-causing defect, benefiting 60 percent of all patients, and more therapies are on the way.

Preston W. Campbell III, the CFF’s president and CEO, directly attributes this dramatic improvement to the foundation’s philosophy of “venture philanthropy.”

“We are now in Phase 3 CFTR trials that, if successful, will mean that as early as next year, more than 90 percent of all individuals with CF will have a highly effective therapy targeting CF’s basic defect,” he said. “More therapies that treat the complications of CF are in the pipeline than ever before.

“It begs the question: how did all of this happen?”

Campbell answered that during his March 26 presentation, “Patient advocates taking a real stand in drug development: How the CFF worked with biotech and pharma to find a cure,” at the 2018 World Orphan Drug Congress USA in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

Back in 1960, the Bethesda, Maryland-based foundation broke ground by establishing a Care Center Network to provide multidisciplinary care. Within five more years, it had formed a patient registry.

With only $400,000 in the bank, it would also commit $11 million to research, Campbell said. “Five years later, in 1985, the basic CF defect was identified, and in 1989, the CFTR gene was discovered. That opened the floodgates,” he added.

Campbell’s predecessor, Robert J. Beall, created the Therapeutics Development Program — now called its Venture Philanthropy Model — in 1998 to entice industry to focus on CF, and specifically on CFTR as a target. Its three components were financial assistance, research tools and scientific advice, and a clinical trials network.

“We would lower the risk for industry to come into the CF space. We also made our research tools and scientific advice freely available, and we also embedded the best scientists in the world in these industry programs,” said Campbell, who took over from Beall as head of the CFF in January 2016. “Finally, in order to make sure clinical trials were safely and efficiently done, we created a clinical trials network that originally had seven centers and now has 89.”

In the beginning, CFF’s investments were typically in the $1.5 million range. Ultimately, the foundation invested more than $100 million in Aurora and its successor, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, whose headquarters are in Boston.

To date, the FDA has approved three Vertex CFTR modulators: Kalydeco (ivacaftor) for patients with the G551D mutation in the CFTR gene (2012); Orkambi (lumacaftor/ivacaftor)for patients who are homozygous for F508del, the most common mutation in the CFTR gene (2015); and Symdeko (tezacaftor/ivacaftor) for homozygous F508del patients as well as others (2018).

“Payments are milestone-based, so we pay for success,” Campbell said. “A scientific advisory committee determines if milestones are met and if the project should continue. Successful programs offer a return on our investment, so if the program is foundering, we shake hands and walk away.”

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‘Sham’ or public interest? ICER suggests 70%-plus discounts on Vertex’s cystic fibrosis drugs

By Angus Liu

Vertex has often talked about its admiration for Gilead, setting the big biotech’s ability to roll out multiple antivirals as a model for its cystic fibrosis endeavor. Now, though, it faces the same pricing issue once pinned on Gilead’s hepatitis C franchise. But the company refuses to play sitting duck.

In a new report, the U.S. cost-effectiveness watchdog the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review argues that Vertex’s cystic fibrosis trio—Kalydeco, Orkambi and newly approved Symdeko—need a huge price cut to achieve cost-effectiveness. Its suggested discount? Over 70%. Continue reading ‘Sham’ or public interest? ICER suggests 70%-plus discounts on Vertex’s cystic fibrosis drugs

FDA approves Proteostasis’s triple combination program for CF

Singapore — Proteostasis Therapeutics, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of ground-breaking therapies to treat cystic fibrosis (CF) and other diseases caused by dysfunctional protein processing, announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Fast Track Designation for the Company’s triple combination program for the treatment of cystic fibrosis. The Company’s proprietary triple combination includes a novel cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) amplifier, third generation corrector and potentiator, known as PTI-428, PTI-801 and PTI-808, respectively. The Company announced in January that the protocol for its triple combination clinical study, which the Company plans to initiate in the current quarter, has received endorsement and a high strategic fit score from the Therapeutics Development Network (TDN) and the Clinical Trial Network (CTN), the drug development arms of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) and the European CF Society (ECFS), respectively.

“Fast Track designation represents another positive step for the development of our triple combination therapy and underscores the serious unmet need that remains for the vast majority of CF patients,” said Meenu Chhabra, president and chief executive officer of Proteostasis Therapeutics.

The FDA’s Fast Track program is designed to facilitate the development and expedite the review of new drugs that are intended to treat serious or life-threatening conditions and that demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs. An investigational drug that receives Fast Track program designation is eligible for more frequent communications between the FDA and the company relating to the development plan and clinical trial design and may be eligible for priority review if certain criteria are met.

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A Brief Historical Timeline of CF Research to Date

Cystic fibrosis care has seen such rapid advances that the average CF patient has experienced a dramatic evolution in treatment strategies in their lifetime. Here are some of the biggest milestones that shaped modern-day CF treatments.

Continue reading A Brief Historical Timeline of CF Research to Date

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to Give $3 Million for Novel CFTR Therapeutic

Arcturus Therapeutics, Inc. (“Arcturus” or the “Company”), a leading RNA medicines company, today announced that it has entered into a research agreement with Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics Inc. (CFFT), the nonprofit drug discovery and development affiliate of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in which CFFT will pay up to $3 million to advance LUNAR-CF, a novel messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutic formulated with Arcturus’ LUNAR™ delivery technology.

Continue reading Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to Give $3 Million for Novel CFTR Therapeutic

New License for CFTR Activators and Inhibitors

Vanda Pharmaceuticals (VNDA), UCSF Enter License Agreement for CFTR Activators and Inhibitors

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Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Vanda) (NASDAQ: VNDA) announced today that it has entered into a license agreement with UC San Francisco (UCSF), under which Vanda will acquire an exclusive Continue reading New License for CFTR Activators and Inhibitors

Concert Pharmaceuticals Initiates Phase 2 Clinical Trial

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Concert Pharmaceuticals Initiates Phase 2 Clinical Trial Evaluating CTP-656 for the Treatment of Cystic Fibrosis

Concert Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: CNCE) today announced the initiation of a U.S.-based Phase 2 clinical trial evaluating CTP-656 Continue reading Concert Pharmaceuticals Initiates Phase 2 Clinical Trial

Galapagos starts Phase 1 study with potentiator GLPG2451 for CF

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Galapagos NV (Euronext & NASDAQ: GLPG) announces the start of a Phase 1 study with potentiator GLPG2451 for cystic fibrosis (CF). Following GLPG1837, GLPG2451 is the second potentiator compound in Galapagos’ extended CF-portfolio to enter clinical trials.

Galapagos is conducting a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Continue reading Galapagos starts Phase 1 study with potentiator GLPG2451 for CF

Laurent Pharma to Prepare Phase 2 Trial for Cystic Fibrosis on Heels of New Financing Round

Laurent Pharma to Prepare Phase 2 Trial for Cystic Fibrosis on Heels of New Financing Round

Montreal-based Laurent Pharmaceuticals recently announced the closing of a financing round, led by new investor Cystic Fibrosis Canada. The round included existing investors such as Aligo Innovation LP and Anges Quebec, and was promoted to allow the company to start preparing its upcoming Continue reading Laurent Pharma to Prepare Phase 2 Trial for Cystic Fibrosis on Heels of New Financing Round

The Paradox of Precision Medicine

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-paradox-of-precision-medicine/

Precision medicine sounds like an inarguably good thing. It begins with the observation that individuals vary in their genetic makeup and that their diseases and responses to medications differ as a result. It then aims to find the right drug, for the right patient, at the Continue reading The Paradox of Precision Medicine