FDA grants orphan designation to DHODH inhibitor for AML


The Food and Drug Administration has granted orphan drug designation to ASLAN003 as a treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

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ASLAN003 is a small molecule inhibitor of the human dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) enzyme. This second-generation DHODH inhibitor is being developed by Aslan Pharmaceuticals. The company is currently conducting a phase 2 trial (NCT03451084) of ASLAN003 in patients with newly diagnosed or relapsed/refractory AML. Aslan expects to report interim data from this trial in the second half of 2018.

Aslan has already completed a phase 1 trial (NCT01992367) of ASLAN003 in healthy volunteers. The results suggested that ASLAN003 has an “excellent” pharmacokinetic profile, according to Aslan, and the drug was considered well tolerated in the volunteers.

ASLAN003 has also demonstrated “potent” inhibition of DHODH, according to the drug sponsor. In fact, the company said the binding affinity of ASLAN003 to DHODH has proven to be up to two orders of magnitude stronger than first-generation DHODH inhibitors, such as leflunomide and teriflunomide, but it has less toxicity.

In addition, ASLAN003 has been shown to differentiate blast cells into granulocytes in AML cell lines that do not respond to all-trans retinoic acid. These results were published in Cell in 2016.

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