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Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Kanuma (sebelipase alfa) as the first treatment for patients with a rare disease known as lysosomal acid lipase (LAL) deficiency.
Patients with LAL deficiency (also known as Wolman disease and cholesteryl ester storage disease [CESD]) have no or little LAL enzyme activity. This results in a build-up of fats within the cells of various tissues that can lead to liver and cardiovascular disease and other complications. Wolman disease often presents during infancy (around 2 to 4 months of age) and is a rapidly progressive disease. Patients with Wolman disease rarely survive beyond the first year of life. CESD is a milder, later-onset form of LAL deficiency and presents in early childhood or later. Life expectancy of patients with CESD depends on the severity of the disease and associated complications. Wolman disease affects one to two infants per million births, and CESD affects 25 individuals per million births.
Today’s action involved approvals from two FDA centers. The Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) approved an application for a recombinant DNA (rDNA) construct in chickens that are genetically engineered (GE) to produce a recombinant form of human lysosomal acid lipase (rhLAL) protein in their egg whites. The FDA regulates GE animals under the new animal drug provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, because an rDNA construct introduced into an animal to change its structure or function meets the definition of a drug. The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) approved the human therapeutic biologic (Kanuma), which is purified from those egg whites, based on its safety and efficacy in humans with LAL deficiency.
The most common side effects observed in patients treated with Kanuma are diarrhea, vomiting, fever, rhinitis, anemia, cough, headache, constipation, and nausea.
In its review of the GE chicken application, CVM assessed the safety of the rDNA construct, including the safety of the rDNA construct to the animals, as well as a full review of the construct and its stability in the genome of the chicken over several generations. No adverse outcomes were noted in the chickens. As required by the National Environmental Policy Act and its implementing regulations, CVM evaluated the potential environmental impacts of approval of the sponsor’s GE chickens and determined that the approval does not cause any significant impact on the environment, because the chickens are raised in highly secure indoor facilities.
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