The recommendation from the EMA’s human drugs committee is good news for the gene therapy field after a string of negative developments. Clinical and regulatory setbacks have weighed on company valuations, limiting their fundraising options and leading to restructuring and layoffs for a number of gene therapy developers.
PTC’s regulatory decision is the first of several expected in the coming months that, if positive, could help turn investors’ views around. After its European disappointment, Bluebird is expecting Food and Drug Administration decisions on its two gene therapies this year, while closely watched projects from BioMarin Pharmaceutical and UniQure could also be under FDA review soon. Likewise, PTC expects by the end of September to ask the FDA for approval of Upstaza.
PTC’s therapy corrects a mutation that disrupts production of an enzyme called aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase, which is in turn vital to production of other chemicals needed for nervous system signaling. As with Luxturna and Zolgensma, Upstaza uses an adeno-associated virus to deliver the corrected gene into cells.
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