The preclinical discovery and development of the combination of ivacaftor + tezacaftor used to treat cystic fibrosis

Lorenzo Guerra, Maria Favia, Sante Di Gioia, Onofrio Laselva, Arianna Bisogno, Valeria Casavola, Carla Colombo, Massimo Conese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is caused by mutations in the Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (CFTR) gene. The most common mutation, F508del, induces protein misprocessing and loss of CFTR function. The discovery through in vitro studies of the CFTR correctors (i.e. lumacaftor, tezacaftor) that partially rescue the misprocessing of F508del-CFTR with the potentiator ivacaftor is promising in giving an unprecedented clinical benefit in affected patients. Areas covered: Online databases were searched using key phrases for CF and CFTR modulators. Tezacaftor–ivacaftor treatment has proved to be safer than lumacaftor–ivacaftor, although clinical efficacy is similar. Further clinical efficacy has ensued with the introduction of triple therapy, i.e. applying second-generation correctors, such as VX-569 and VX-445 (elexacaftor) to tezacaftor–ivacaftor. The triple combinations will herald the availability of etiologic therapies for patients for whom no CFTR modulators are currently applied (i.e. F508del/minimal function mutations) and enhance CFTR modulator therapy for patients homozygous for F508del. Expert opinion: CF patient-derived tissue models are being explored to determine donor-specific response to current approved and future novel CFTR modulators for F508del and other rare mutations. The discovery and validation of biomarkers of CFTR modulation will complement these studies in the long term and in real-life world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)873-891
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Discovery
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • cellular models
  • CFTR modulators
  • clinical endpoints
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • elexacaftor
  • ivacaftor
  • lumacaftor
  • tezacaftor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery


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