Wave Life Sciences is making waves in the field of RNA editing therapy with its recent submission of a clinical trial application for WVE-006, a groundbreaking endeavor. This therapy, if approved, will mark the first-ever RNA editing therapy to venture into clinical development, signifying a remarkable leap in medical innovation.
Paul Bolno, CEO of Wave Life Sciences, emphasized the significance of this application, highlighting that it demonstrates the rapid transition of medical concepts into clinical reality. The company aims to administer the first doses to patients by the end of this year, with data expected to be available in 2024.
WVE-006 is a pioneering therapy designed to restore the production and circulation of functional, wildtype alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) protein while reducing the levels of mutant Z-AAT protein. This innovative approach targets alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD)–related lung or liver diseases, offering a ray of hope to patients.
What sets WVE-006 apart is its reliance on RNA editing, rather than DNA editing. Bolno stressed the inherent safety of RNA editing, as it is reversible and does not permanently alter the genetic code.
Notably, Wave’s program has demonstrated its precision by avoiding bystander edits, meaning it doesn’t inadvertently impact other genetic targets or generate unintended proteins, known as isoforms. This safety profile stands in contrast to DNA editing, which can trigger unintended bystander edits or immune responses.
This unique feature allows Wave to include healthy volunteers in its trials, facilitating the rapid completion of volunteer cohorts and enabling the optimization of dose levels for patient cohorts.
Bolno underscored the company’s confidence in moving WVE-006 into clinical trials, citing positive results from preclinical studies and Wave’s meticulous characterization of the program’s profile and chemistry.
In mouse models, WVE-006 not only led to the restoration of AAT protein levels but also exhibited substantial improvements in several markers of liver disease. Additionally, it effectively inhibited neutrophil elastase, offering promising prospects for treating AATD-related conditions.
In essence, Wave Life Sciences is poised to revolutionize medicine by bringing cutting-edge RNA editing therapy into clinical development, offering new hope and possibilities for patients with AATD-related lung or liver diseases.
Industry Poised to Accelerate
The progress of Wave’s clinical trial application for WVE-006 in RNA editing has ignited fresh enthusiasm in the field. Salim Syed, a senior biotechnology analyst at Mizuho Group, noted that investors have long been intrigued by WVE-006’s potential for treating alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD).
The program’s entry into clinical trials with expected data in 2024 is seen as a significant milestone that could be pivotal for Wave.
However, Syed cautioned that safety will be a paramount concern, especially given the novelty of RNA editing therapies. Specificity and the absence of bystander editing will be closely monitored. Additionally, questions about the durability and re-dosing of RNA editing therapies like WVE-006 will need to be addressed.
Daniel de Boer, CEO of ProQR Therapeutics, expressed his excitement about the progress in the RNA editing field, emphasizing the potential of this technology to improve patients’ lives.
ProQR’s Axiomer technology, which mediates precise single nucleotide changes to RNA, has shown promising editing efficiency in various genes. The company is advancing two initial targets in its wholly-owned pipeline programs and is poised to make significant strides in the coming months.
Large biopharma companies like Eli Lilly and GSK are also investing in RNA editing to bolster their pipelines. GSK’s Chief Scientific Officer, Tony Wood, highlighted the remarkable advances in understanding human biology and the transformative possibilities of RNA in broader biology. Oligonucleotides, such as those used in Wave’s RNA editing medicine, traditionally targeted rare diseases but are now being explored for more prevalent conditions.
Paul Bolno, CEO of Wave Life Sciences, echoed the sentiment that RNA editing holds immense promise. He predicted that a wave of products harnessing the power of RNA editing will emerge in the next five years, not just for rare diseases but also for common ones.
The reversible nature of RNA editing adds a layer of flexibility and safety to these innovative therapies, making the future of RNA editing treatments all the more exciting and tangible. Bolno emphasized that this is no longer a speculative vision but a reality unfolding before us.