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AstraZeneca: AstraZeneca's potential medicine for Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder receives orphan designation in Europe

AstraZeneca and its global biologics research and development arm,
MedImmune, today announced that the European Medicines Agency (EMA)
has granted orphan designation to inebilizumab (formerly MEDI-551)
for the treatment of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD).
Developed by MedImmune, inebilizumab is currently in Phase IIb
clinical development for NMOSD.

NMOSD is a rare, life-threatening autoimmune disease of the central
nervous system in which the body's immune system attacks healthy
cells, most commonly in the optic nerves and spinal cord, resulting
in severe damage. NMOSD may cause severe muscle weakness and
paralysis, loss of vision, respiratory failure, problems with bowel
and bladder function and neuropathic pain.1 There is currently no
cure or approved medicine for NMOSD, which affects about five in
100,000 people.

Bing Yao, Senior Vice President, R&D and Head of the Respiratory,
Inflammation and Autoimmunity Innovative Medicines unit, MedImmune,
said: "The EMA's orphan designation for inebilizumab underscores the
significant unmet need for patients with NMOSD, who currently have no
options and face increasing damage and disability with each attack.
We look forward to continuing to develop this potential new medicine
to help treat patients with this rare and devastating disease."

Research has shown that patients with NMOSD develop antibodies against
a protein called aquaporin-4 in their optic nerve and spinal cord.
These antibodies play a key role in NMOSD disease pathogenesis.
Inebilizumab directly targets and depletes cells that produce these

Orphan designation is a status assigned to a medicine intended for use
in rare diseases. To be granted orphan designation by the EMA, a
medicine must be intended for the treatment, prevention or diagnosis
of a disease that is life-threatening and has a prevalence of less
than five people in 10,000 in the European Union. Additionally, the
intended medicine must aim to provide significant benefit to those
affected by the condition. Orphan designation provides companies with
development and market exclusivity incentives for designated
compounds and medicines. Orphan designation is conferred following a
positive opinion by the EMA's Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products

In March 2016, AstraZeneca announced
that inebilizumab had received Orphan Drug Designation from the US
Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

- ENDS -

[1] National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National
Institutes of Health


About inebilizumab

Inebilizumab is a humanised, monoclonal antibody that binds with high
affinity to CD19, a protein expressed on a broad range of B cells,
including certain B cells called plasmablasts. Research has shown
that autoantibodies called AQP4-Ab (or NMO-IgG) directed against the
protein aquaporin-4 - produced in these plasmablasts - play a key
role in NMO disease pathogenesis. Inebilizumab binds directly to CD19
protein on the surface of the plasmablasts and depletes them.
Inebilizumab is currently being evaluated in a global clinical trial
in Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO)/Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum
Disorders. More information can be found on

About Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorders (NMOSD)

Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) is a recently proposed
unifying term for neuromyelitis optica (NMO) - also known as Devic's
disease - and related syndromes. NMOSD is a severe relapsing
neuroinflammatory autoimmune disease that is rare and can be fatal.
In NMOSD, immune system cells and antibodies attack cells in the
optic nerves and spinal cord. The damage to the optic nerves produces
swelling and inflammation that may cause pain and loss of vision; the
damage to the spinal cord may cause weakness, paralysis, loss of
sensation, problems with bladder and bowel function, and respiratory
failure, with each attack leading to further damage and disability.It
primarily affects women and it may be more common in non-Caucasians.
There is currently no cure or approved treatment for NMO.

About MedImmune
MedImmune is the global biologics research and development arm of
AstraZeneca, a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business
that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of
small molecule and biologic prescription medicines. MedImmune is
pioneering innovative research and exploring novel pathways across
Oncology, Respiratory, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases, and
Infection and Vaccines. The MedImmune headquarters is located in
Gaithersburg, Md., one of AstraZeneca's three global R&D centres,
with additional sites in Cambridge, UK and Mountain View, CA. For
more information, please visit

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that
focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of
prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in
three main therapy areas - Oncology, Cardiovascular & Metabolic
Diseases and Respiratory. The Company also is selectively active in
the areas of Autoimmunity, Neuroscience and Infection. AstraZeneca
operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used
by millions of patients worldwide. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter @AstraZeneca.

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