Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common fatal inherited disease in the United States. CF results in mucus buildup in the lungs, pancreas and other organs, and mortality is primarily driven by a progressive decline in lung function. There is no cure for CF.
According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF), the median age at death for patients with CF in the United States was 30.6 years in 2017. This means that half of those deaths occurred before the age of 31 — meaning too many people with CF miss the opportunity to finish school, begin careers, start families, and reach other milestones.
According to the CFF, more than 30,000 patients in the United States and more than 70,000 patients worldwide are living with CF and approximately 900 new cases of CF are diagnosed each year.
CF is caused by dysfunctional or missing CFTR protein. We have developed an mRNA therapeutic designed to deliver mRNA encoding fully functional CFTR protein to the lung, resulting in the expression of the functional CFTR protein. This therapeutic has the potential to treat all patients with CF, regardless of the underlying genetic mutation.
Infectious Diseases, including COVID-19
We are currently working with our partner Sanofi Pasteur to develop mRNA vaccines for up to five infectious disease pathogens. In addition to these initial five targets, we are also developing a novel mRNA vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus responsible for the disease known as COVID-19 in partnership with Sanofi.
Vaccines work by mimicking disease agents to stimulate the immune system; building up a defense mechanism that remains active in the body to fight future infections. mRNA vaccines offer an innovative approach by delivering a nucleotide sequence encoding the antigen or antigens selected for their high potential to induce a protective immune response. mRNA vaccines also represent a potentially innovative alternative to conventional vaccine approaches for several reasons – their high potency, ability to initiate protein production without the need for nuclear entry, capacity for rapid development and potential for low-cost manufacture and safe administration using non-viral delivery. This approach potentially enables the development of vaccines for disease areas where vaccination is not a viable option today. Additionally, a desired antigen or multiple antigens can be expressed from mRNA without the need to adjust the production process offering maximum flexibility and efficiency in development.
Additional Pulmonary Diseases
Beyond our cystic fibrosis clinical program, our researchers are leveraging our proprietary lung delivery platform to evaluate important targets in additional pulmonary diseases. Preclinical research efforts include discovery-stage programs in primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic lung disorder characterized by thickening, stiffening and scarring, or fibrosis, of tissue within the lungs. There are approximately 83,000 diagnosed cases of IPF in the United States. Translate Bio’s preclinical discovery efforts in IPF are primarily focused on delivering siRNA to the lung to knock down the target protein to potentially provide clinical benefit. Preclinical studies are ongoing to demonstrate proof-of-concept to support product candidate selection.
Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is an autosomal recessive genetic condition in which clearance of mucus from the respiratory tract is impaired due to defects in ciliary function. Cilia are tiny, hair-like structures on the cells that line the airways. Mutations in more than 30 genes are known to cause PCD and there are approximately 16,000 diagnosed cases of PCD in the United States. Translate Bio intends to use its mRNA platform to potentially restore ciliary function in the lungs of patients with PCD. The Company is conducting preclinical studies in multiple PCD genes to demonstrate proof-of-concept and support the selection of a lead PCD program.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare, progressive disorder characterized by narrowing of the small arteries of the lungs resulting in increased blood pressure through the lungs, which can damage the heart. There are approximately 53,000 diagnosed cases of PAH in the United States. In developing an mRNA product candidate for PAH, Translate Bio intends to use its MRT platform to produce a number of protein targets that could potentially slow the progression of the disease. Preclinical studies are underway to evaluate and validate target proteins for this disease.
Other Rare Diseases
We believe that our MRTTM platform may be applied across a broad array of diseases and target tissues via multiple routes of administration. We are currently undergoing lead identification activities seeking to identify additional potential mRNA therapeutics in the liver. All of these programs are in the discovery stage.