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Orphan designation

On 16 April 2018, orphan designation (EU/3/18/2012) was granted by the European Commission to IDEA Innovative Drug European Associates Limited, United Kingdom, for genetically modified replication-incompetent herpes simplex virus-1 expressing collagen VII (also known as KB103) for treatment of epidermolysis bullosa.

What is epidermolysis bullosa?

Epidermolysis bullosa is a group of inherited diseases in which the skin is very fragile and forms severe blisters after even minor friction (rubbing) or injury. In most cases, symptoms of epidermolysis bullosa appear from birth, but for some forms, symptoms may not occur until adulthood. The diseases are caused by mutations (changes) in the genes responsible for the production of certain proteins that make the skin strong and elastic, such as collagen or keratins.

Epidermolysis bullosa is a long-term debilitating and life-threatening condition because the severe blistering and associated scarring and deformities result in poor quality of life and may reduce life expectancy.

What is the estimated number of patients affected by the condition?

At the time of designation, epidermolysis bullosa affected 0.7 in 10,000 people in the European Union (EU). This was equivalent to a total of around 36,000 people*, and is below the ceiling for orphan designation, which is 5 people in 10,000. This isbased on the information provided by the sponsor and the knowledge of the Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products (COMP).

*Disclaimer: For the purpose of the designation, the number of patients affected by the condition is estimated and assessed on the basis of data from the European Union (EU 28), Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. This represents a population of 517,400,000 (Eurostat 2018).

What treatments are available?

At the time of designation, no satisfactory methods were authorised in the EU to treat epidermolysis bullosa. Good personal hygiene and skincare were recommended to help blisters heal, to avoid infections and to protect the skin from damage. Painkillers were also used. Surgery was sometimes necessary for complications such as deformed hands or the development of skin cancer.

How is this medicine expected to work?

This medicine is intended for patients who have epidermolysis bullosa due to a mutation in the COL7A1 gene. This gene normally produces a substance called collagen 7 that helps hold skin layers together.

The medicine is made of a virus that contains the normal COL7A1 gene. When given to the patient, the virus is expected to carry the normal COL7A1 gene into the patient’s skin cells. The skin cells are then expected to produce collagen 7, correcting the cause of the condition and preventing blister formation.

The virus used in this medicine (herpes simplex) has been modified so that it does not cause disease in humans.

What is the stage of development of this medicine?

The effects of the medicine have been evaluated in experimental models.

At the time of submission of the application for orphan designation, no clinical trials with the medicine in patients with epidermolysis bullosa had been started.

At the time of submission, the medicine was not authorised anywhere in the EU for epidermolysis bullosa. Orphan designation of the medicine had been granted in the US for dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa.

In accordance with Regulation (EC) No 141/2000 of 16 December 1999, the COMP adopted a positive opinion on 15 March 2018 recommending the granting of this designation.

Opinions on orphan medicinal product designations are based on the following three criteria:
  • the seriousness of the condition;
  • the existence of alternative methods of diagnosis, prevention or treatment;
  • either the rarity of the condition (affecting not more than 5 in 10,000 people in the EU) or insufficient returns on investment.

Designated orphan medicinal products are products that are still under investigation and are considered for orphan designation on the basis of potential activity. An orphan designation is not a marketing authorisation. As a consequence, demonstration of quality, safety and efficacy is necessary before a product can be granted a marketing authorisation.

Key facts

Product details for <p>genetically modified replication-incompetent herpes simplex virus-1 expressing collagen VII</p>
Active substancegenetically modified replication-incompetent herpes simplex virus-1 expressing collagen VII
Medicine Name
Disease/conditionTreatment of epidermolysis bullosa
Date of decision16/04/2018
Orphan decision numberEU/3/18/2012

Review of designation

Sponsor’s contact details

IDEA Innovative Drug European Associates Limited
19 Eastbourne Terrace
London W2 6LG
United Kingdom
Tel. + 44 (0)20 3036 0764

Patients’ organisations

For contact details of patients’ organisations whose activities are targeted at rare diseases, see:

  • Orphanet, a database containing information on rare diseases, which includes a directory of patients’ organisations registered in Europe;
  • European Organisation for Rare Diseases (EURORDIS), a non-governmental alliance of patient organisations and individuals active in the field of rare diseases.