On January 31, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Kalydeco (ivacaftor) for the treatment of a rare form of cystic fibrosis (CF) in patients ages 6 years and older who have the specific G551D mutation in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR) gene. This represents a breakthrough in the field of personalized medicine. CF is a serious genetic disorder affecting the lungs and other organs that ultimately leads to an early death. It is caused by mutations in a gene that encodes the protein CFTR that regulates ion (such as chloride) and water transport in the body. The defect in chloride and water transport results in the formation of thick mucus that builds up in the lungs, digestive tract, and other parts of the body leading to severe respiratory and digestive problems, as well as other complications such as infections and diabetes. CF, which affects about 30,000 people in the United States, is the most common fatal genetic disease in the Caucasian population. About 4 percent of those with CF, or roughly 1,200 people, are believed to have the G551D mutation. “Kalydeco is an excellent example of the promise of personalized medicine – targeted drugs that treat patients with a specific genetic makeup,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg. “The unique and mutually beneficial partnership that led to the approval of Kalydeco serves as a great model for what companies and patient groups can achieve if they collaborate on drug development.” The FDA reviewed and approved Kalydeco in approximately three months under the agency’s priority review program that is designed to expedite the review of drugs. The priority review program uses a six-month review, instead of the standard 10 months, for drugs that may offer significant advances in treatment over available therapy.
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