BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (Nasdaq: VRTX) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has lifted the clinical hold placed on the Phase 1/2 clinical trial of VX-880, an investigational stem cell-derived, fully differentiated pancreatic islet cell replacement therapy for people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) with impaired hypoglycemic awareness and severe hypoglycemia. As a result, the Phase 1/2 trial will be reopened for screening, enrollment and dosing at multiple sites in the U.S.
To date, three patients have been dosed in the Phase 1/2 study with VX-880. Two patients received half the target dose of cells in Part A of the study. A third patient has received the full target dose in Part B of the study. Part B will evaluate safety and efficacy in five patients at the target dose before expanding to additional patients in Part C.
VX-880 is an investigational allogeneic stem cell-derived, fully differentiated, insulin-producing islet cell therapy manufactured using proprietary technology. VX-880 is being evaluated for patients who have T1D with impaired hypoglycemic awareness and severe hypoglycemia. VX-880 has the potential to restore the body’s ability to regulate glucose levels by restoring pancreatic islet cell function, including glucose responsive insulin production. VX-880 is delivered by an infusion into the hepatic portal vein and requires maintenance immunosuppressive therapy to protect the islet cells from immune rejection.
About the Phase 1/2 Clinical Trial
The clinical trial is a Phase 1/2, multi-center, single-arm, open-label study in patients who have T1D with impaired hypoglycemic awareness and severe hypoglycemia. This study is designed as a sequential, multi-part clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of VX-880. In Part A, the first two patients received half the target dose. In Part B, five patients will receive the target dose, after which concurrent dosing at the full target dose will occur in Part C. Approximately 17 patients will be enrolled in the clinical trial. Enrollment is ongoing in this study.
About Type 1 Diabetes
T1D results from the autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas, leading to loss of insulin production and impairment of blood glucose control. The absence of insulin leads to abnormalities in how the body processes nutrients, leading to high blood glucose levels. High blood glucose can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis and over time, to complications such as kidney disease/failure, eye disease (including vision loss), heart disease, stroke, nerve damage and even death.
Due to the limitations and complexities of insulin delivery systems, it can be difficult to achieve and maintain balance in glucose control in people with T1D. Hypoglycemia often results because of the difficulty in balancing the different factors that impact glucose levels, including insulin, diet and exercise. Hypoglycemia remains a critical limiting factor in glycemic management, and severe hypoglycemia can cause loss of consciousness, coma, seizures, injury and can be fatal. Over time, patients with T1D can develop impaired awareness of hypoglycemia, meaning they are no longer able to perceive the early signs of a hypoglycemic event, which can be dangerous and result in life-threatening events.
Current standards of care do not address the underlying causes of the disease, and there are limited treatment options beyond insulin for the management of T1D.
Vertex is a global biotechnology company that invests in scientific innovation to create transformative medicines for people with serious diseases. The company has multiple approved medicines that treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis (CF) — a rare, life-threatening genetic disease — and has several ongoing clinical and research programs in CF. Beyond CF, Vertex has a robust pipeline of investigational small molecule, cell and genetic therapies in other serious diseases where it has deep insight into causal human biology, including sickle cell disease, beta thalassemia, APOL1-mediated kidney disease, pain, type 1 diabetes, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Founded in 1989 in Cambridge, Mass., Vertex’s global headquarters is now located in Boston’s Innovation District and its international headquarters is in London. Additionally, the company has research and development sites and commercial offices in North America, Europe, Australia and Latin America. Vertex is consistently recognized as one of the industry’s top places to work, including 12 consecutive years on Science magazine’s Top Employers list and one of the 2021 Seramount (formerly Working Mother Media) 100 Best Companies. For company updates and to learn more about Vertex’s history of innovation, visit www.vrtx.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.
Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended, including, without limitation, (i) statements in this press release, (ii) our plans, expectations for, and the potential benefits of VX-880, (iii) our plans to continue to progress the Phase 1/2 program for VX-880 and (iv) our plans for dosing and enrollment of patients. While Vertex believes the forward-looking statements contained in this press release are accurate, these forward-looking statements represent the company’s beliefs only as of the date of this press release and there are a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Those risks and uncertainties include, among other things, that data from a limited number of patients may not be indicative of final clinical trial results, that data from the company’s research and development programs may not support registration or further development of its compounds due to safety, efficacy, and other risks listed under the heading “Risk Factors” in Vertex’s most recent annual report and subsequent quarterly reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission at www.sec.gov and available through the company’s website at www.vrtx.com. You should not place undue reliance on these statements, or the scientific data presented. Vertex disclaims any obligation to update the information contained in this press release as new information becomes available.