Aurinia Pharmaceuticals, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the global immunology market, has selected Worldwide Clinical Trials as its CRO for the AURORA phase III study of volcosporin for the treatment of active lupus nephritis (LN).
“Selecting a CRO for AURORA is a key milestone for Aurinia following our successful end-of-phase II meeting with the FDA Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Rheumatology Products. We are thrilled to partner with Worldwide to support the AURORA phase III clinical trial,” said Charles Rowland, chief executive officer of Aurinia. “We are rapidly moving forward with our plans to bring this important therapy to market for patients living with this devastating disease, and Worldwide’s deep expertise and capabilities in managing pivotal trials will be a tremendous asset to us. We are on track to commence the AURORA trial in the second quarter of 2017, and we expect the results from this study will support a New Drug Application (NDA) submission to the FDA.”
With support from Worldwide, Aurinia will proceed with conducting a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind global 52-week trial in approximately 320 patients. The primary endpoint as in the phase IIb AURA trial is renal response (complete remission), at 24 weeks. In addition to the assessment of renal response, a key marker of clinical benefit in this population is the duration of proteinuria improvement. Therefore, secondary endpoints will include the duration of renal response at 52 weeks (48 weeks in AURA), an efficacy measure which delineates durability of renal response (remission), an important parameter in evaluating long-term outcomes for the treatment of LN.
“Our entire Worldwide team is delighted to have been selected as Aurinia’s CRO partner to advance voclosporin, which has the potential to become the first FDA-approved treatment for LN,” said Peter Benton, president and chief operating officer at Worldwide Clinical Trials. “We’re truly honored that an innovator like Aurinia recognizes what Worldwide brings to the table: medical and scientific expertise, proactive insight, dogged determination, rigorous processes and a commitment to getting it right. We’re looking forward to working closely with Aurinia’s clinical development team on this new therapy, which could significantly improve the lives and long-term outcomes of patients suffering from LN.”
Worldwide experts will work closely with Robert Huizinga, vice president of Clinical Development, and Rashieda Gluck, vice president of Clinical Operations, on successfully executing the AURORA trial.
Voclosporin, an investigational drug, is a novel and potentially best-in-class calcineurin inhibitor (CNI) with clinical data in over 2,000 patients across indications. Voclosporin is an immunosuppressant, with a synergistic and dual mechanism of action that has the potential to improve near- and long-term outcomes in LN when added to standard of care (MMF). By inhibiting calcineurin, voclosporin blocks IL-2 expression and T-cell mediated immune responses. It is made by a modification of a single amino acid of the cyclosporine molecule which has shown a more predictable pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic relationship, an increase in potency, an altered metabolic profile, and potential for flat dosing. The company anticipates that upon regulatory approval, patent protection for voclosporin will be extended in the U.S. and certain other major markets, including Europe and Japan, until at least October 2027 under the Hatch-Waxman Act and comparable laws in other countries.
LN in an inflammation of the kidney caused by Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and represents a serious progression of SLE. SLE is a chronic, complex and often disabling disorder and affects more than 500,000 people in the U.S. (mostly women). The disease is highly heterogeneous, affecting a wide range of organs & tissue systems. It is estimated that as many as 60% of all SLE patients have clinical LN requiring treatment. Unlike SLE, LN has straightforward disease outcomes where an early response correlates with long-term outcomes, measured by proteinuria. In patients with LN, renal damage results in proteinuria and/or hematuria and a decrease in renal function as evidenced by reduced estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), and increased serum creatinine levels. LN is debilitating and costly and if poorly controlled, LN can lead to permanent and irreversible tissue damage within the kidney, resulting in end-stage renal disease (ESRD), thus making LN a serious and potentially life-threatening condition.
The AURORA study is a 52-week global double-blind placebo controlled phase III study that will compare the efficacy of one dose of voclosporin (23.7mg BID) or placebo added to current standard of care of mycophenolate mofetil (MMF, also known as CellCept) in achieving renal response (formerly referred to as complete remission) in patients with active LN. Both arms will also receive low doses of corticosteroids as part of background therapy after a stringent taper. Aurinia believes this phase III clinical trial whose design is consistent with the ongoing AURA study, will support a NDA submission.