Shire’s anaemia drug Dynepo seems to have “less pronounced angiogenic properties” than its market rival Amgen’s Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa), according to in vitro research presented at 40th annual American Society of Nephrology meeting and scientific exposition in San Francisco, USA.

The findings are important because Dynepo (epoetin delta) - which is indicated for the treatment of anaemia in patients with chronic kidney disease - is the only erythropoiesis-stimulating agent produced in a human cell line; all other marketed ESA’s are made in Chinese hamster ovary cells, indicating that different analogues of erythropoetin may produce different angiogenic effects.

Angiogenesis, the process by which new blood vessels are formed, is a key factor in tumour growth, malignancy and diabetic retinopathy, and there are occasions where reduced angiogenic potential is of benefit, such as in patients with malignancies or proliferative retinopathy, explained primary investigator Professor Alan Stitt, Centre for Vision Science, Queen’s University, Belfast. But he stressed that additional non-clinical and clinical studies are necessary to fully assess the angiogenic potential and related molecular mechanisms of the drug.

Benefit in neuropathy?
Meanwhile, other research unveiled at the conference suggests that Dynepo could also offer a benefit to patients with neuropathy, a condition that can develop in diabetics with CKD.

An investigation using rats found that Shire’s drug was able to correct the reduced nerve conduction speed that occurs in patients with neuropathy. “This data is particularly interesting,” commented primary investigator Professor Norman Cameron, School of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Scotland. “We know that ESAs are effective in correcting anaemia, but this data suggests that, at least in the non-clinical setting, epoetin delta may have pleiotropic, non-hematopoietic effects,” he explained.

The research presented at the conference is the first to be published from a Shire-sponsored non-clinical programme designed to investigate the implications of manufacturing Dynepo in a human cell line.