Roche pays Ionis’s eye project a complement

Having been ditched by Glaxosmithkline last year, Ionis’s complement factor B inhibitor IONIS-FB-LRx has found another partner in Roche. The Swiss giant is not making a big bet on the antisense project, which will initially be tested in geographic atrophy, an advanced form of a dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the deal is only worth $75m up front. But Roche obviously still sees promise in this indication, where its anti-complement factor D MAb lampalizumab flunked in two phase III studies last year. There are no approved drugs for dry AMD or geographic atrophy and the pipeline looks sparse: the most advanced complement-targeting project is Apellis Pharmaceuticals’ APL-2 Intravitreal, which began phase III development in September. Meanwhile, readout of a phase IIb study of Ophthotech’s Zimura has been pushed back from December 2018 to next year, and data from a trial of Morphosys and Novartis’s tesidolumab, which was due to complete in 2017, have not emerged. Geographic atrophy is thought to affect around eight million patients worldwide and a year ago lampalizumab was Roche’s most valuable pipeline asset, so it is no wonder the group is trying again. Whether it will get better results with a similar approach is another matter.

Complement-targeting projects in geographic atrophy/dry AMD
Project Company Mechanism Trial(s) Data
Phase III
APL-2 Intravitreal Apellis Pharmaceuticals Complement factor C3 inhibitor NCT03525600; NCT03525613 Mar 2021;
Apr 2021
Phase II 
Tesidolumab Morphosys/Novartis   Anti-complement factor C5 MAb  NCT02515942* Sep 2017
Zimura Ophthotech/Archemix Anti-complement factor C5a aptamer NCT02686658 Sep 2019
IONIS-FB-LRx Ionis/Roche Complement factor B inhibitor NCT03446144 Dec 2020
Abandoned
Lampalizumab   Roche Anti-complement factor D MAb Spectri (NCT02247531); Chroma (NCT02247479) Failed
AL-78898A   Novartis   Complement C3 inhibitor NCT01603043 Trial terminated
Soliris Alexion Pharmaceuticals Anti-complement factor C5 MAb NCT00935883 Failed
Source: EvaluatePharma; *in combination with CLG561.

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