Thursday, August 30, 2012
A collaborative model for drug development for rare diseases
This month’s issue holds an article by Fiorentino et al. putting forward a model for rare disease drug development and the first realization of this model (J Allergy Clin Immunol 2012;130:613-616). Fiorentino and colleagues at the FDA in CDER’s Division of Gastroenterology and Inborn Error Products chose the rare disease eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) as the focus of their efforts to establish this new paradigm.
Noting the rise in prevalence and incidence of EoE, the authors discuss the knowledge gaps that create obstacles to effective clinical interventions. They use this information to construct their model of “rational” drug development, which includes defining the disease in clinical, research and sociocultural terms, evaluating the natural history of the disease using the definitions identified, and reliably assessing clinical and patient-reported outcomes.
Fiorentino et al. describe their efforts to date implementing this model. They tapped critical research groups, such as The International Gastrointestinal Eosinophil Researchers (TIGERs), North American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) to open discussions on disease definition and urge the inclusion of disease and patient advocacy groups in this early process. Advocacy groups are identified as critical to the success of the model because they bring strong interest in the long-term success of research into the disease.
Early progress is reported for the determination of a functional disease definition and appropriate terminology. The authors note that findings from graduate student research supported by the EoE project demonstrate that inconsistent and vague terminology is impeding research efforts. Additionally, they comment that research is underway to understand the relationship between positive clinical outcomes and the esophageal mucosal eosinophilia that is diagnostic for EoE. They point out that there is a pressing need to define and characterize the EoE patient population in order to develop appropriate patient-reported outcome measures.
An editorial in this issue by Rothenberg et al. presents additional perspectives and considerations (pp#). Dr. Rothenberg notes that an upcoming meeting (Sept. 19) provides an opportunity for more information and exchange of opinion about the subject. For further information: https://www.signup4.net/public/ap.aspx?EID=20123759E&OID=50