ZUG, Switzerland and CAMBRIDGE, Mass. and BOSTON, April 16, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — CRISPR Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CRSP) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (Nasdaq: VRTX) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Fast Track Designation for CTX001 for the treatment of transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia (TDT). CTX001 is an investigational, autologous, gene-edited hematopoietic stem cell therapy for patients suffering from severe hemoglobinopathies.
The FDA’s Fast Track program is designed to facilitate the development and expedite the review of drugs that treat serious conditions and fill unmet medical needs. A drug granted Fast Track Designation may be eligible for several benefits, including more frequent meetings and communications with the FDA and, if relevant criteria are met, the potential for Accelerated Approval, Priority Review or Rolling Review of a Biologics License Application (BLA).
In February 2019, CRISPR Therapeutics and Vertex announced that the first patient had been treated with CTX001 in a Phase 1/2 clinical study of patients with TDT, marking the first company-sponsored use of a CRISPR/Cas9 therapy in a clinical trial. The Phase 1/2 open-label trial is designed to assess the safety and efficacy of a single dose of CTX001 in patients ages 18 to 35 with TDT, non-beta zero/beta zero subtypes. The companies are also evaluating CTX001 for the treatment of sickle cell disease (SCD) and received Fast Track Designation for CTX001 from the FDA in January 2019 for SCD. The companies announced in February 2019 that the first patient had been enrolled in a Phase 1/2 clinical study of CTX001 in severe SCD in the U.S. and is expected to be infused with CTX001 in mid-2019. Enrollment in both studies is ongoing.
CTX001 is an investigational ex vivo CRISPR gene-edited therapy that is being evaluated for patients suffering from TDT or severe SCD in which a patient’s hematopoietic stem cells are engineered to produce high levels of fetal hemoglobin (HbF; hemoglobin F) in red blood cells. HbF is a form of the oxygen carrying hemoglobin that is naturally present at birth and is then replaced by the adult form of hemoglobin. The elevation of HbF by CTX001 has the potential to alleviate transfusion requirements for TDT patients and painful and debilitating sickle crises for SCD patients.
CTX001 is being developed under a co-development and co-commercialization agreement between CRISPR Therapeutics and Vertex.
About the CRISPR-Vertex Collaboration
CRISPR Therapeutics and Vertex entered into a strategic research collaboration in 2015 focused on the use of CRISPR/Cas9 to discover and develop potential new treatments aimed at the underlying genetic causes of human disease. CTX001 represents the first treatment to emerge from the joint research program. CRISPR Therapeutics and Vertex will jointly develop and commercialize CTX001 and equally share all research and development costs and profits worldwide.
About CRISPR Therapeutics
CRISPR Therapeutics is a leading gene editing company focused on developing transformative gene-based medicines for serious diseases using its proprietary CRISPR/Cas9 platform. CRISPR/Cas9 is a revolutionary gene editing technology that allows for precise, directed changes to genomic DNA. CRISPR Therapeutics has established a portfolio of therapeutic programs across a broad range of disease areas including hemoglobinopathies, oncology, regenerative medicine and rare diseases. To accelerate and expand its efforts, CRISPR Therapeutics has established strategic collaborations with leading companies including Bayer AG, Vertex Pharmaceuticals and ViaCyte, Inc. CRISPR Therapeutics AG is headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, with its wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, CRISPR Therapeutics, Inc., and R&D operations based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and business offices in London, United Kingdom. For more information, please visit www.crisprtx.com.
CRISPR Forward-Looking Statement
This press release may contain a number of “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended, including statements regarding CRISPR Therapeutics’ expectations about any or all of the following: (i) clinical trials (including, without limitation, the timing of filing of clinical trial applications and INDs, any approvals thereof and the timing of commencement of clinical trials), development timelines and discussions with regulatory authorities related to product candidates under development by CRISPR Therapeutics and its collaborators; (ii) the number of patients that will be evaluated, the anticipated date by which enrollment will be completed and the data that will be generated by ongoing and planned clinical trials, and the ability to use that data for the design and initiation of further clinical trials; (iii) the scope and timing of ongoing and potential future clinical trials; (iv) the intellectual property coverage and positions of CRISPR Therapeutics, its licensors and third parties; (v) the sufficiency of CRISPR Therapeutics’ cash resources; and (vi) the therapeutic value, development, and commercial potential of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technologies and therapies. Without limiting the foregoing, the words “believes,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “expects” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. You are cautioned that forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain. Although CRISPR Therapeutics believes that such statements are based on reasonable assumptions within the bounds of its knowledge of its business and operations, forward-looking statements are neither promises nor guarantees and they are necessarily subject to a high degree of uncertainty and risk. Actual performance and results may differ materially from those projected or suggested in the forward-looking statements due to various risks and uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties include, among others: the outcomes for each CRISPR Therapeutics’ planned clinical trials and studies may not be favorable; that one or more of CRISPR Therapeutics’ internal or external product candidate programs will not proceed as planned for technical, scientific or commercial reasons; that future competitive or other market factors may adversely affect the commercial potential for CRISPR Therapeutics’ product candidates; uncertainties inherent in the initiation and completion of preclinical studies for CRISPR Therapeutics’ product candidates; availability and timing of results from preclinical studies; whether results from a preclinical trial will be predictive of future results of the future trials; uncertainties about regulatory approvals to conduct trials or to market products; uncertainties regarding the intellectual property protection for CRISPR Therapeutics’ technology and intellectual property belonging to third parties; and those risks and uncertainties described under the heading “Risk Factors” in CRISPR Therapeutics’ most recent annual report on Form 10-K, and in any other subsequent filings made by CRISPR Therapeutics with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which are available on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. Existing and prospective investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they are made. CRISPR Therapeutics disclaims any obligation or undertaking to update or revise any forward-looking statements contained in this press release, other than to the extent required by law.
Vertex is a global biotechnology company that invests in scientific innovation to create transformative medicines for people with serious and life-threatening diseases. In addition to clinical development programs in cystic fibrosis, Vertex has more than a dozen ongoing research programs focused on the underlying mechanisms of other serious diseases.
Founded in 1989 in Cambridge, Mass., Vertex’s headquarters is now located in Boston’s Innovation District. Today, the company has research and development sites and commercial offices in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia and Latin America. Vertex is consistently recognized as one of the industry’s top places to work, including being named to Science magazine’s Top Employers in the life sciences ranking for nine years in a row.
For additional information and the latest updates from the Company, please visit www.vrtx.com.
Vertex Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including, without limitation, statements regarding the potential benefits of Fast Track Designation and the ongoing clinical trials for CTX001. While Vertex believes the forward-looking statements contained in this press release are accurate, there are a number of factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements. Those risks and uncertainties include, among other things, risks related to developing drug candidates and the other risks listed under Risk Factors in Vertex’s annual report and quarterly reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Vertex disclaims any obligation to update the information contained in this press release as new information becomes available.