FDA Grants Fast Track Designation to Devimistat in Acute Myeloid Leukemia


The FDA granted a Fast Track designation to devimistat for the treatment of patients with acute myeloid leukemia.

The FDA has granted a Fast Track designation to devimistat (CPI-613) for the treatment of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), Rafael Pharmaceuticals, announced in a press release.1

“This designation underscores the pressing need to find new ways to combat this aggressive disease,” said Jorge Cortes, MD, director of the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University, and principal investigator on the phase 3 clinical trial, in a statement. “It brings hope not only to clinicians, but to patients who hear that they have been diagnosed.”

The first-in-class agent devimistat targets enzymes that are involved in cancer cell energy metabolism. This therapy substantially increases the sensitivity of cancer cells to a diverse range of chemotherapies, and this synergy allows for potential combinations that could be more effective with devimistat and lower doses of drugs that are generally toxic.

“Receiving Fast Track designation, especially during a pandemic that has created significant challenges for many trials across the globe, is a testament to the dedicated work of the Rafael team,” stated Sanjeev Luther, president and CEO of Rafael Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Devimistat combinations appear promising with a diverse range of potential opportunities to improve benefit in patients with various cancer types. Two pivotal phase 3 clinical trials, including the AVENGER 500 study in pancreatic cancer (NCT03504423) and ARMADA 2000 for AML (NCT03504410), have been approved for initiation by the FDA.

The primary end point of the multicenter, open-label, randomized ARMADA 2000 study is complete response (CR), and secondary end points include overall survival and CR plus CR with partial hematologic recovery rate. To be eligible to enroll to the study, patients must be aged ≥50 years with a documented AML diagnosis that has relapsed from or became refractory to previous standard therapy. Patients must have an ECOG performance status of 0 to 2 and an expected survival longer than 3 months.

Five hundred patients are expected to be enrolled and randomized in the study. To enroll, patients could not have received prior radiotherapy or cytotoxic chemotherapy for their current AML. Those with active central nervous system involvement, active uncontrolled bleeding, history of other malignancy, or known hypersensitivity to study drugs are ineligible to enroll to the trial as well.

This study aims to determine the safety and efficacy of devimistat in combination with high-dose cytarabine and mitoxantrone in older patients with relapsed/refractory AML compared with high-dose cytarabine and mitoxantrone therapy alone. Other control groups include patients treated with mitoxantrone, etoposide, and cytarabine and the combination of fludarabine, cytarabine, and filgrastim. The addition of devimistat is expected to improve the CR rate in patients who are aged 50 years or older with relapsed/refractory AML.

In a prior phase 1 study of devimistat plus high-dose cytarabine and mitoxantrone in patients with relapsed/refractory AML, the addition of devimistat sensitized AML cells to chemotherapy treatment.2

The objective response rate was 50% including CRs in 26 of 62 evaluable patients. Median overall survival was 6.7 months. In patients above age 60, the CR or CR with incomplete hematologic recovery rate was 47% and the median survival was 6.9 months. 

This designation for this experimental anti-mitochondrial agent follows news of another Fast Track designation granted to devimistat for the treatment of patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer in November 2020, as well as an Orphan Drug designation granted in October 2020 for the treatment of patients with soft tissue sarcoma.


1. Rafael Pharmaceuticals Receives FDA Fast Track Designation for CPI-613® (devimistat) for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). News Release. Rafael Pharmaceuticals, Inc. December 15, 2020. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://bit.ly/34g6YsR

2. Pardee TS, Anderson RG, Pladna KM, et al. A Phase I Study of CPI-613 in Combination with High-Dose Cytarabine and Mitoxantrone for Relapsed or Refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Clin Cancer Res. 2018;24(9):2060-2073. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-17-2282

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