The move from the US Food and Drug Administration effectively fast-tracks the regulatory review of the medicine, called selumetinib, which Astra is working on with fellow pharma giant Merck & Co Inc (NYSE:MRK).
NF1 is a rare genetic condition that causes tumours to grow along a person’s nerves which can lead to various skin issues and learning difficulties, as well as problems with the bones, eyes and nervous system.
People with NF1 also have a much higher rate of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The BTD is based on data from a Phase II monotherapy trial last summer which showed that selumetinib can reduce pain and motor impairment.
“Selumetinib shows promise in the treatment of NF1-related plexiform neurofibromas, a rare and debilitating disease with no approved medications to date,” said Astra’s oncology R&D boss José Baselga.
“The Breakthrough Therapy Designation acknowledges the significant unmet need of these patients and the potential benefit of selumetinib in this setting.”