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Pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and safety of subcutaneous anifrolumab in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, active skin disease, and high type I interferon gene signature: a multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 2

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Published:31st Jan 2021
Author: Bruce IN, Nami A, Schwetje E, Pierson E, Rouse T, Chia YL et al.
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Ref.:Lancet Rheumatol. 2021 Feb Vol.3, No.2, e101–e110
DOI:10.1016/S2665-9913(20)30342-8
Pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and safety of subcutaneous anifrolumab in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, active skin disease, and high type I interferon gene signature: a multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 2 study


Background:
300 mg of intravenous anifrolumab every 4 weeks added to standard-of-care treatment for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) reduced disease activity and glucocorticoid requirement in a previous phase 3 trial. Because patients might find subcutaneous administration more convenient than intravenous delivery, we aimed to evaluate the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, safety, and efficacy of subcutaneous anifrolumab in patients with SLE, active skin disease, and a high type I interferon gene signature.

Methods: This multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 2 study was done at 12 hospitals and outpatient clinics in Hungary, South Korea, Poland, and the USA. Eligible patients were aged 18–70 years, and had SLE with high type I interferon gene signature and an activity score on the Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus Disease Area and Severity Index (CLASI) of at least 10. Enrolled participants were randomly assigned (3:1:3:1) by use of a voice-web response system to receive either 150 mg of subcutaneous anifrolumab or corresponding placebo, or 300 mg of subcutaneous anifrolumab or corresponding placebo in addition to stable standard-of-care treatment. The study was double-blinded with respect to intervention but not dose, until 12 weeks. Doses of oral glucocorticoids were tapered after week 12. The primary pharmacokinetic endpoint was the serum concentration of anifrolumab based on the maximum concentration after the first dose and the minimum (trough) concentration before subsequent doses and was measured in all patients who received anifrolumab and had at least one quantifiable serum pharmacokinetics observation following the first dose. The primary pharmacodynamic endpoint was neutralisation of the type I interferon pharmacodynamic signature at week 12 and was assessed in all patients with a high type I interferon pharmacodynamics signature at baseline based on a 21-gene test. Safety was evaluated in the full analysis set, which included all patients who received at least one dose of anifrolumab. This trial is completed and is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02962960.

Findings: Between March 14, 2017, and Oct 26, 2017, 36 patients were randomly assigned to receive 150 mg of anifrolumab (n=14), 300 mg of anifrolumab (n=13), or placebo (n=9). Two patients in the anifrolumab 150 mg group were excluded from the pharmacodynamic analysis set (n=34). Ten (71%) of 14 patients in the anifrolumab 150 mg group, ten (77%) of 13 patients in the anifrolumab 300 mg group, and nine (100%) of the nine patients in the placebo group completed 52 weeks of treatment. At week 12, pre-dose mean trough serum concentrations of anifrolumab were more than dose proportional between the anifrolumab 150 mg group (19·82 μg/mL [SD 15·01]) and the anifrolumab 300 mg group (60·28 μg/mL [43·66]), and the pharmacokinetics were non-linear. At week 12, the median percentage neutralisation of the type I interferon gene signature was higher with 150 mg (88·0% [median absolute deviation 7·4]) and 300 mg (90·7% [3·3]) of anifrolumab than with placebo (18·5% [8·1]), and more patients in the anifrolumab 150 mg group and the anifrolumab 300 mg group than in the placebo group had neutralisation of 75% or more (eight [67%] of 12 vs ten [77%] of 13 vs one [11%] of nine). At least one adverse event was reported by 23 (85%) of 27 patients in the anifrolumab groups and by seven (78%) of nine patients in the placebo group; most adverse events were of mild-to-moderate severity. Serious adverse events were reported in six (22%) of 27 patients in the anifrolumab groups (four patients in the 150 mg group and two in the 300 mg group). No serious adverse events were reported in the placebo group. Herpes zoster infection was reported by three (11%) of 27 patients in the anifrolumab groups and by one (11%) of nine patients in the placebo group. There were no treatment-related deaths.

Interpretation: Anifrolumab, administered subcutaneously every 2 weeks to patients with SLE and moderate-to-severe skin manifestations, had non-linear pharmacokinetics that were more than dose proportional, and neutralised the type I interferon gene signature in a dose-dependent manner. The safety profile was consistent with previous studies of intravenous anifrolumab, supporting the continued development of anifrolumab as a subcutaneously administered therapy for patients with SLE.

Funding: AstraZeneca.


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