Geron Announces Fast Track Designation Granted to Imetelstat for Relapsed/Refractory Myelofibrosis
MENLO PARK, Calif., Sept. 30, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Geron Corporation (Nasdaq: GERN) today announced that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Fast Track designation to imetelstat for the treatment of adult patients with Intermediate-2 or High-risk myelofibrosis (MF) whose disease has relapsed after or is refractory to janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor treatment, or relapsed/refractory MF. The Fast Track designation includes patients with primary MF and MF developed after essential thrombocythemia or polycythemia vera. This is the same patient population that was studied in Geron’s IMbark Phase 2 clinical trial. There are currently no marketed drugs specifically approved for relapsed/refractory MF, representing a significant unmet medical need. Geron plans to conduct an End of Phase 2 meeting with the FDA by the end of the first quarter of 2020 to determine if there is a regulatory path forward for imetelstat in relapsed/refractory MF.
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 conditions and supported by data that demonstrate the potential to address an unmet medical need. Fast Track designation provides opportunities for frequent interactions with FDA review staff, including meetings to discuss the drug’s development plan and to ensure the collection of appropriate data needed to support approval. Through the Fast Track Program, a product candidate may be eligible for priority review, if supported by the clinical data, and for the ability to submit completed sections of a New Drug Application (NDA) on a rolling basis as data become available prior to completion of the full application.
Myelofibrosis (MF), a type of myeloproliferative neoplasm, is a chronic blood cancer in which abnormal or malignant precursor cells in the bone marrow proliferate rapidly, causing scar tissue to form (fibrosis). As a result, normal blood production in the bone marrow is impaired and may shift to other organs, such as the spleen and liver, which can cause them to enlarge substantially. People with MF may have abnormally low or high numbers of red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets in the blood or bone marrow. MF patients can also suffer from debilitating constitutional symptoms, such as fever, weight loss, night sweats, and itching (pruritus). MF patients have shortened survival, and their disease may transform to acute myeloid leukemia.
The number of people living with MF in the United States is estimated at 13,000 patients, with approximately 3,000 new cases diagnosed each year. There are currently only two drugs approved by the FDA for treating MF patients. The most widely used drug therapy for MF has a discontinuation rate of 75% after five years of treatment. Once patients discontinue treatment with this drug due to failure or lack of response, there are no specifically approved therapies, and the median overall survival for these MF patients is approximately 14 to 16 months, representing a significant unmet medical need.