How Enzymes Are Made

This section presents a general example of the process used to make enzymes. It is not specific to Aldurazyme® (laronidase), and depending on the particular enzyme being made, there may be variations in the process. Still, the production of any genetically engineered enzyme tends to be both long and complex. Although great strides have been made through technology, the manufacturing process may take months or even years.

Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, which are made from chemicals, biotechnology drugs such as enzymes are derived from living organisms and their products. Biotechnology manufacturing requires the combination of several fields of science (e.g., microbiology, biochemistry, engineering) with large-scale industrial processes. The cost and difficulty involved in manufacturing these products are often higher than those of a conventional pharmaceutical drug.

What is an enzyme?

An enzyme is a protein that starts up or “triggers” a biochemical reaction. Some of the important functions of enzymes include:

  • Regulating the growth of the body from a single cell to a mature organism
  • Converting food to energy to satisfy the body's needs
  • Breaking down or building up certain substances within the cell

Genetic engineering is the process that allows scientists to alter the genetic make-up of an organism so that it can produce human enzymes. This technology, also known as recombinant DNA technology, makes it possible for scientists to produce many enzymes that previously were only available in small quantities, if at all. These manufactured enzymes may then be given through regular injections to patients with enzyme deficiencies to replace the missing or malfunctioning enzyme. There are three main stages to producing recombinant human enzymes for use in enzyme replacement therapies (ERT).

Stage One: Cell Culture, Growth, and Harvest

Before genetic engineering, it was difficult to purify enough enzyme to treat even a single patient. Today, special "cell production lines" have been created for large-scale manufacturing. These cells are frozen in a cell bank or storage facility prior to use, and they provide the starter material for the genetic engineering process. The most commonly used cell production line in genetic engineering is the Chinese hamster ovary cell, commonly abbreviated as "CHO cell." To produce a certain enzyme, the gene for that enzyme is obtained from human DNA and inserted into the CHO cells, causing them to express or "manufacture" the enzyme.

Stage Two: Enzyme Purification

Because enzymes are proteins, they are digested if swallowed, making oral administration (such as by tablet or liquid, for example) difficult. As a result, enzyme replacement therapy must be injected directly into the bloodstream and must therefore meet very high purity standards. To purify the enzyme, unwanted substances are first removed. Afterwards, the product is ready for formulation (development to a final product) and transport to a sterile area, where it is put into its final packaging.

Stage Three: Filling and Finishing

In the last stage of the production process, the manufactured enzyme is filled into vials using a sterile manufacturing process to prevent product contamination. At this point, the vials are ready to be sealed, labeled, and inspected. Only after Quality Assurance (QA) approval can the enzyme be shipped from the manufacturing facility.

 

Indication

ALDURAZYME® (laronidase) is a prescription only medication indicated for patients with Hurler and Hurler-Scheie forms of Mucopolysaccharidosis I (MPS I) and for patients with the Scheie form who have moderate to severe symptoms. The risks and benefits of treating mildly affected patients with the Scheie form have not been established.

ALDURAZYME has been shown to improve pulmonary function and walking capacity. ALDURAZYME has not been evaluated for effects on the central nervous system manifestations of the disorder.

Important Safety Information

WARNING: Risk of anaphylaxis.

Life-threatening anaphylactic reactions have been observed in some patients during ALDURAZYME® infusions. Therefore, appropriate medical support should be readily available when ALDURAZYME is administered. Patients with compromised respiratory function or acute respiratory disease may be at risk of serious acute exacerbation of their respiratory compromise due to infusion reactions, and require additional monitoring.


Anaphylaxis and severe allergic reactions have been observed in patients during or up to 3 hours after ALDURAZYME infusions. Some of these reactions were life-threatening and included respiratory failure, respiratory distress, stridor, tachypnea, bronchospasm, obstructive airways disorder, hypoxia, hypotension, bradycardia, and urticaria. If anaphylactic or other severe allergic reactions occur, immediately discontinue the infusion of ALDURAZYME and initiate appropriate treatment. Caution should be exercised if epinephrine is being considered for use in patients with MPS I due to the increased prevalence of coronary artery disease in these patients. Interventions have included resuscitation, mechanical ventilatory support, emergency tracheotomy, hospitalization, and treatment with inhaled beta-adrenergic agonists, epinephrine, and IV corticosteroids.

In clinical studies and postmarketing safety experience with ALDURAZYME, approximately 1% of patients experienced severe or serious allergic reactions. In patients with MPS I, pre-existing upper airway obstruction may have contributed to the severity of some reactions. Due to the potential for severe allergic reactions, appropriate medical support should be readily available when ALDURAZYME is administered. Because of the potential for recurrent reactions, some patients who experience initial severe reactions may require prolonged observation.

The risks and benefits of re-administering ALDURAZYME following an anaphylactic or severe allergic reaction should be considered. Extreme care should be exercised, with appropriate resuscitation measures available, if the decision is made to re-administer the product.

Patients with an acute febrile or respiratory illness at the time of ALDURAZYME infusion may be at greater risk for infusion reactions. Careful consideration should be given to the patient’s clinical status prior to administration of ALDURAZYME and consider delaying ALDURAZYME infusion.

Sleep apnea is common in MPS I patients. Evaluation of airway patency should be considered prior to initiation of treatment with ALDURAZYME. Patients using supplemental oxygen or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) during sleep should have these treatments readily available during infusion in the event of an infusion reaction or extreme drowsiness/sleep induced by antihistamine use.

Caution should be exercised when administering ALDURAZYME to patients susceptible to fluid overload or patients with an acute underlying respiratory illness or compromised cardiac and/or respiratory function for whom fluid restriction is indicated. These patients may be at risk of serious exacerbation of their cardiac or respiratory status during infusions. Appropriate medical support and monitoring measures should be readily available during ALDURAZYME infusion, and some patients may require prolonged observation times that should be based on the individual needs of the patient.

Because of the potential for infusion reactions, patients should receive antipyretics and/or antihistamines prior to infusion. If an infusion-related reaction occurs, regardless of pre-treatment, decreasing the infusion rate, temporarily stopping the infusion, or administering additional antipyretics and/or antihistamines may ameliorate the symptoms.

The most serious adverse reactions reported with ALDURAZYME treatment during clinical trials were anaphylactic and allergic reactions.

In a 26-week, placebo-controlled clinical trial in patients 6 years and older, the most commonly reported infusion reactions regardless of treatment group were flushing, pyrexia, headache, and rash. Flushing occurred in 5 patients (23%) receiving ALDURAZYME; the other reactions were less frequent. Less common infusion reactions included angioedema (including face edema), hypotension, paresthesia, feeling hot, hyperhidrosis, tachycardia, vomiting, back pain, and cough. Other reported adverse reactions included bronchospasm, dyspnea, urticaria, and pruritus. In the open-label, uncontrolled extension phase of this clinical trial, the infusion reactions were similar, but also included abdominal pain or discomfort and injection site reaction. Less commonly reported infusion reactions included nausea, diarrhea, feeling hot or cold, vomiting, pruritus, arthralgia and urticaria. Additional common adverse reactions included, back pain and musculoskeletal pain.

In an open-label, uncontrolled clinical trial in patients 6 years and younger who received ALDURAZYME treatment for up to 52 weeks, the most commonly reported serious adverse events (regardless of relationship) in patients 6 years and younger, were otitis media (20%), and central venous catherization required for ALDURAZYME infusion (15%). The most commonly reported adverse reactions in patients 6 years and younger were infusion reactions reported in 35% (7 of 20) of patients and included pyrexia (30%), chills (20%), blood pressure increased (10%), tachycardia (10%), and oxygen saturation decreased (10%). Other commonly reported infusion reactions occurring in ≥5% of patients were pallor, tremor, respiratory distress, wheezing, crepitations (pulmonary), pruritus, and rash.

In postmarketing experience with ALDURAZYME, severe and serious infusion reactions have been reported, some of which were life-threatening, including anaphylactic shock. Adverse reactions resulting in death reported in the postmarketing setting with ALDURAZYME treatment included cardio-respiratory arrest, respiratory failure, cardiac failure, and pneumonia. These events have been reported in MPS I patients with significant underlying disease. Additional common adverse reactions included erythema and cyanosis. There have been a small number of reports of extravasation in patients treated with ALDURAZYME. There have been no reports of tissue necrosis associated with extravasation. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.

In clinical trials, 99 of 102 patients (97%) treated with ALDURAZYME were positive for IgG antibodies to ALDURAZYME. In the 2 trials of patients 6 years and older, 9 patients who experienced severe infusion reactions were tested for ALDURAZYME-specific IgE antibodies and complement activation. One of the nine patients had an anaphylactic reaction consisting of urticaria and airway obstruction and tested positive for both ALDURAZYME-specific IgE binding antibodies and complement activation. In the postmarketing setting, approximately 1% of patients experienced severe or serious infusion-allergic reactions and tested positive for IgE. Of these IgE-positive patients, some have discontinued treatment, but some have been successfully re-challenged. The clinical significance of antibodies to ALDURAZYME, including the potential for product neutralization, is not known.

Adverse events should be reported promptly to Sanofi Genzyme Medical Information at 800-745-4447, option 2.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

ALDURAZYME is available by prescription only. To learn more, please see the Full Prescribing Information including Boxed Warning (PDF), visit www.ALDURAZYME.com or contact Sanofi Genzyme at 1-800-745-4447, option 2.