Physicochemical, biological, functional and toxicological characterization of the European follow-on glatiramer acetate product as compared with Copaxone

By May 30, 2018April 23rd, 2021Publications

For more than 20 years, Copaxone (glatiramer acetate, Teva), a non-biological complex drug, has been a safe and effective treatment option for multiple sclerosis. In 2016, a follow-on glatiramer acetate product (FOGA, Synthon) was approved in the EU. Traditional bulk-based methods and high-resolution assays were employed to evaluate the physicochemical, functional, and bio-recognition attributes, as well as the in vivo toxicity profile of the active substances in Copaxone and Synthon EU FOGA lots. These tests included quality control tests applied routinely in release of Copaxone lots, as well as additional characterization assays, gene expression studies and a rat toxicity study. Even though the Synthon FOGA was designed to copy and compete with Copaxone, the active substances were found to be similar in only 7 of the tested 14 (50%) methods (similar is defined as within approved specifications or within the inherent microheterogeneity range of tested Copaxone batches, or not showing statistically significant differences). With additional methods applied, consistent compositional differences in attributes of surface charge distribution, molecular size, and spatial arrangement were observed. These marked differences were concordantly observed with higher biological activity of some of the Synthon EU FOGA lots compared with Copaxone lots, including potency and cytotoxicity activities as well as gene expression of pathways that regulate apoptosis, IL-2, and inflammation signaling. These observations raise concerns for immunogenicity differences, particularly in (repeated) substitution settings. Another orthogonal finding demonstrated increased frequency of injection-site local toxicity observations for the Synthon EU FOGA in an in vivo daily dosing rat study, thus warranting further qualification of the link between compositional and functional differences in immunogenicity, and potential impact on long-term efficacy and safety.