Monday, May 23, 2005
South San Francisco, Calif. -- May 23, 2005 --Genentech, Inc. (NYSE: DNA) announced today that a Phase III clinical study of the investigational drug Lucentis (ranibizumab) met its primary efficacy endpoint of maintaining vision in patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Approximately 95 percent of patients maintained or improved vision (defined as a loss of less than 15 letters in visual acuity) at one year when treated with Lucentis injections compared to approximately 62 percent of those treated in the control arm (p<0.0001). Patients treated with Lucentis for 12 months had, on average, a significant improvement in visual acuity compared to their visual acuity at study entry, an important secondary endpoint, while the control group demonstrated a substantial decrease in mean visual acuity from baseline to 12 months. One-year data from the trial will be presented at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS), July 16 to 20 in Montreal, Canada.
"These Lucentis data exceeded our expectations because they show, for the first time in a Phase III trial, a statistically significant improvement in vision for patients in a disease that has remained chronic and progressive despite current treatment options," said Hal Barron, M.D., Genentech senior vice president, development and chief medical officer.
A preliminary analysis of the data showed that adverse events were similar to those seen in earlier trials of Lucentis. Common side effects occurring in the Lucentis arms more frequently than in the control group were mild to moderate and included conjunctival hemorrhage, eye pain and vitreous floaters. Serious ocular adverse events occurring more frequently in Lucentis-treated patients were rare (<1%) and included uveitis and endophthalmitis. There appeared to be no imbalance in serious non-ocular adverse events.
Lucentis is a humanized antibody fragment developed at Genentech and designed to bind and inhibit Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A (VEGF-A), a protein that is believed to play a critical role in angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels).
"We are excited that our pioneering work at Genentech in the field of angiogenesis has again translated into a potential new treatment option for patients with such a significant unmet medical need," said Barron. "We look forward to sharing these positive Phase III data with the FDA."
About the Study
Minimally classic/occult trial of the Anti-VEGF antibody Ranibizumab (formerly, RhuFab) In the treatment of Neovascular AMD (MARINA) is a Phase III study of 716 patients in the United States with minimally classic or occult wet AMD who were randomized 2:1 to receive intravitreal Lucentis injections or a control regimen. The control regimen consisted of a sham injection, meaning the treating physician prepares and anesthetizes the patient's eye but does not perform an injection. Patients treated with Lucentis were further randomized to receive either a 0.3 mg or 0.5 mg dose of Lucentis once a month for two years.
Exclusion criteria included prior subfoveal laser treatment, verteporfin photodynamic therapy (PDT) or experimental treatments for wet AMD. Visual acuity was measured using the Early Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy (ETDRS) chart, the standard method of quantifying visual acuity.
Ongoing Phase III Studies
Genentech and Novartis Pharma AG are conducting two additional Phase III studies of Lucentis. ANCHOR (ANti-VEGF Antibody for the Treatment of Predominantly Classic CHORoidal Neovascularization in AMD) is a randomized, multi-center, double-masked, active-treatment-controlled Phase III study comparing two different doses of Lucentis to PDT in 423 patients. The trial is ongoing in the United States, Europe and Australia. Results from this study are expected in the fourth quarter of 2005.
A Phase IIIb study of 184 patients, PIER (A Phase IIIb, Multicenter, Randomized, Double-Masked, Sham Injection-Controlled Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Ranibizumab in Subjects with Subfoveal Choroidal Neovasularization with or without Classic CNV Secondary to Age-Related Macular Degeneration), is also underway. In this trial, Lucentis is administered once per month for the first three doses followed thereafter by doses once every three months for two years. Results from this study are expected in the first half of 2006.
Lucentis (ranibizumab) is a humanized therapeutic antibody fragment developed at Genentech and designed to bind and inhibit VEGF-A, a protein that is believed to play a critical role in angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels). Lucentis is designed to block new blood vessel growth and leakiness, which lead to wet AMD disease progression and vision loss.
Lucentis is being developed by Genentech and the Novartis Ophthalmics Business Unit. Genentech retains commercial rights for Lucentis in North America (United States, Canada and Mexico). Novartis has exclusive commercialization rights for the rest of the world.
AMD is a major cause of painless central visual loss and is the leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 60. The National Eye Institute estimates that there are 1.6 million people with AMD in the United States alone and that this prevalence will grow to 2.95 million by 2020. AMD occurs in two forms: dry and wet. The dry form is associated with atrophic cell death of the central retina or macula, which is required for fine vision used for activities such as reading, driving or recognizing faces. The wet form is caused by growth of abnormal blood vessels also known as choroidal neovascularization (CNV) or ocular angiogenesis under the macula. These vessels leak fluid and blood and cause scar tissue that destroys the central retina. This results in a deterioration of sight over a period of months to years.
Genentech is a leader in research and product development in the area of angiogenesis, the process by which new blood vessels are formed. In 1989 Napoleone Ferrara, M.D., and a team of scientists at Genentech conducted seminal work in the field, which resulted in the identification and cloning of a gene termed Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF), now known as VEGF-A. The VEGF-A protein is believed to play a critical role in angiogenesis and serves as one of the key contributors to physiological or pathological conditions that can stimulate the formation of new blood vessels. The process of angiogenesis is normally regulated throughout development and adult life, and the uncontrolled growth of new blood vessels is an important contributor to a number of pathologic conditions, including wet AMD.
Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes biotherapeutics for significant unmet medical needs. A considerable number of the currently approved biotechnology products originated from, or are based on, Genentech science. Genentech manufactures and commercializes multiple biotechnology products directly in the United States and licenses several additional products to other companies. The company has headquarters in South San Francisco, Calif., and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DNA. For additional information about the company, please visit http://www.gene.com.
The statements made in this press release relating to the expected time frame for results from the Phase III ANCHOR and PIER trials are forward-looking and actual results could differ materially. Among other things, the timing could be affected by additional time requirements for data analysis or discussions with the FDA.