Voyager Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:VYGR) is making some impressive gains today, currently up $2.37 at $13.30 in mid-morning trading – a 21.68 percent boost. The uptick follows an announcement made before the market open, in which the drug maker released positive clinical data from an ongoing Phase 1b study evaluating its advanced Parkinson’s disease therapy.
Volume is also boosted today, with more than 1.8 million shares of Voyager already traded so far. On an average trading day, only about 112,000 shares of the company change hands.
The drug, called VY-AADC01, is a gene therapy that was developed by Voyager to help boost patients’ abilities to produce dopamine. While the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease in most patients isn’t known, the motor symptoms associated with the condition are caused by losing neurons located in the midbrain that generate dopamine – an important neurotransmitter.
When dopamine levels fall in this part of patients’ brains, that’s what triggers the motor symptoms involved with Parkinson’s: postural instability, tremors, slow movement or loss of movement, and rigidity. In the advanced stages of the condition, symptoms escalate to having difficulty with speaking and swallowing, falling over, and gait freezing – which often means that patients require the help of daily caregivers.
The current standard of care is called Levodopa, and patients suffering from the early stages of the disease can typically keep their symptoms pretty well-controlled. As the disease progresses, however, they can become less responsive to the currently available treatment.
According to today’s announcement, VY-AADC01 managed to spark durable, time-dependent and dose-dependent improvements in several metrics that assess Parkinson’s patients’ motor function – after just a single administration of the drug. The data collected included Parkinson’s disease rating scales, patient-reported diaries, and activities related to daily living.
“By six months in Cohort 3, patients achieved the clinically meaningful improvements in motor symptoms that were observed in Cohort 2 and with even lower doses of their oral Parkinson’s medications, including levodopa,” said the company’s Chief Medical Officer, Bernard Ravina, MD, MS. “These data suggest that higher doses of VY-AADC01 result in greater AADC activity, increasing the patient’s capacity to produce dopamine and, therefore, reducing their need for oral Parkinson’s medications.”
According to Dr. Ravina, patients enrolled in the Phase 1b program spent more time during their days with good motor function, experienced less disability, and had less time experiencing poor motor function. In Cohort 2 of the trial at the 12-month mark, patients had four more hours per day without dyskinesia, which is the term for the involuntary or impaired movements associated with Parkinson’s disease.
The author of this article holds no position in any of the companies mentioned above.