Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Sanofi announced that the pivotal Phase 3 LIBERTY ASTHMA QUEST study of dupilumab in a broad population of patients with uncontrolled, persistent asthma met its two primary endpoints.
Dupilumab, when added to standard therapies, reduced severe asthma attacks (exacerbations) and improved lung function. At 52 weeks, in the 300 mg dose group, dupilumab reduced severe asthma attacks by 46 percent in the overall population, 60 percent in patients with 150 eosinophilic cells/microliter or greater, and 67 percent in patients with 300 eosinophilic cells/microliter or greater (p less than 0.001 for all groups). At 12 weeks, in the 300 mg dupilumab dose group, mean improvement in lung function over placebo as assessed by forced expiratory volume over one second (FEV1) was 130 mL (9 percent) in the overall population, 210 mL (11 percent) in patients with 150 eosinophilic cells/microliter or greater, and 240 mL (18 percent) in patients with 300 eosinophilic cells/microliter or greater (p less than 0.001 for all groups). The companies plan to submit a Supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the end of this year.
"Approximately one million U.S. adults and adolescents live with uncontrolled, persistent asthma, and continue to experience serious asthma attacks, despite taking an intensive regimen of standard therapies," said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron. "Dupilumab has now demonstrated positive late-stage results in two serious allergic diseases -- asthma and atopic dermatitis -- with robust efficacy and an extensive safety database. These results continue to support our hypothesis that the IL-4/IL-13 pathway is a critical driver of allergic disease, and we remain committed to further investigating the IL-4/IL-13 pathway in other allergic diseases."
The results for the 200 mg and 300 mg dupilumab dose groups were generally comparable on both exacerbations and FEV1. The extent of patient response correlated with allergic or atopic status as reflected by blood eosinophils and other markers. Less activity was observed in patients with less than 150 eosinophilic cells/microliter. The overall rates of adverse events, deaths, infections, conjunctivitis, herpes and discontinuations were comparable between the dupilumab and placebo groups. Injection site reactions were more common in the dupilumab groups occurring in 17 percent of dupilumab patients compared to 8 percent of placebo patients.
"We believe that therapies like dupilumab, which focus on specific molecular pathways such as the Th2 pathway associated with multiple chronic allergic diseases, are important targets for further investigations," said Elias Zerhouni, M.D., President, Global R&D, Sanofi. "The positive data from this large second pivotal trial in uncontrolled persistent asthma, following the positive results of dupilumab in atopic dermatitis, further support this view in our opinion. We will work diligently with health authorities to bring this new application of dupilumab to the patients who most need it."
The QUEST pivotal Phase 3 trial enrolled 1,902 patients including 1,795 adults and 107 adolescents across 413 study sites worldwide. The four study groups included patients treated with 200 mg every other week with a loading dose of 400 mg, 300 mg every other week with a loading dose of 600 mg, and two separate placebo groups. Patients were randomized in a 2:1 fashion to active drug versus placebo. The two primary endpoints of the study were the annualized rate of severe exacerbation events at 52 weeks and the absolute change from baseline in a standard measure of lung function known as pre-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume over one second (FEV1) at 12 weeks (changes of 100 to 200 mL are considered clinically relevant). The pre-specified primary analysis included hierarchical evaluation of these endpoints in the overall population, in patients with 150 eosinophilic cells/microliter or greater, and in patients with 300 eosinophilic cells/microliter or greater. In the study, approximately 50 percent of patients had 300 eosinophilic cells/microliter or greater and approximately 70 percent of patients had 150 eosinophilic cells/microliter or greater. Higher eosinophil counts are generally thought to be associated with poorer asthma control and higher rates of exacerbations, as was observed in the placebo patients in this study.
All patients continued on a medium or high dose inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) and up to two additional controller medicines throughout the study. Eosinophil subgroups were classified based on baseline levels. Detailed results from this study will be submitted for presentation at a future medical congress. QUEST is the second pivotal trial in uncontrolled persistent asthma following a positive Phase 2b pivotal study of dupilumab. Data from another Phase 3 study known as VENTURE examining the ability of dupilumab to reduce oral corticosteroid use in patients with severe steroid-dependent asthma are expected later this year. Also included in the LIBERTY ASTHMA clinical development program is the TRAVERSE trial, a long-term safety extension study. The potential use of dupilumab in asthma is currently under clinical development and the safety and efficacy have not been fully evaluated by any regulatory authority. In March 2017, the FDA approved DUPIXENT® (dupilumab) in the U.S. for the treatment of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis that is not adequately controlled with topical prescription therapies.
About Uncontrolled Persistent Asthma
People who live with uncontrolled persistent asthma often have severe attacks (exacerbations) that may lead to emergency room visits, hospitalizations and decreased lung function. Despite currently available treatments, there is a need for new medicines that offer comprehensive asthma control including preservation of lung function and reduction in exacerbations. Uncontrolled persistent asthma is often associated with other Type 2 allergic inflammatory diseases including atopic dermatitis, nasal polyps, allergic rhinitis, eosinophilic esophagitis and food allergies. The disease is characterized by an imbalance or overactivity of certain immune cells (including eosinophils) and signaling proteins known as interleukins. Two of these are Interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-13 (IL-13), which are central drivers of Type 2 inflammation.
About Dupilumab Clinical Programs
Dupilumab is a fully human monoclonal antibody that is designed to simultaneously inhibit overactive signaling of IL-4 and IL-13 cytokines, one of the root causes of Type 2 allergic inflammation. Sanofi and Regeneron are studying dupilumab in a broad range of clinical development programs for diseases that are driven by Type 2 inflammation, including pediatric atopic dermatitis (Phase 3) nasal polyps (Phase 3) and eosinophilic esophagitis (Phase 2). These potential uses are investigational and the safety and efficacy have not been evaluated by any regulatory authority. Dupilumab was discovered using Regeneron's proprietary VelocImmune® technology that yields optimized fully-human antibodies, and is being jointly developed by Regeneron and Sanofi under a global collaboration agreement.
DUPIXENT® (dupilumab) is the first and only biologic medicine FDA-approved for the treatment of adults with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis (AD) whose disease is not adequately controlled with topical prescription therapies.
Sanofi, a global healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients' needs. Sanofi is organized into five global business units: Diabetes and Cardiovascular, General Medicines and Emerging Markets, Sanofi Genzyme, Sanofi Pasteur and Consumer Healthcare. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY). Sanofi Genzyme focuses on developing specialty treatments for debilitating diseases that are often difficult to diagnose and treat, providing hope to patients and their families.
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