1Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Pinnacle Clinical Research, Live Oak, Texas, USA.
2Research and Development, Hepion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
3Clinical, Medical and Regulatory, Hepion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Edison, New Jersey, USA.
Rencofilstat (RCF) demonstrated antifibrotic effects in preclinical models and was safe and well tolerated in Phase 1 studies. The aim of this Phase 2a study was safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and exploration of efficacy biomarkers in subjects with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This Phase 2a, multicenter, single-blind, placebo-controlled study randomized 49 presumed F2/F3 subjects to RCF 75 mg once daily (QD), RCF 225 mg QD, or placebo for 28 days. Primary safety and tolerability endpoints were explored using descriptive statistics with post hoc analyses comparing active to placebo groups. Pharmacokinetics were evaluated using population pharmacokinetics methods. Efficacy was explored using biomarkers, transcriptomics, and lipidomics. RCF was safe and well tolerated, with no safety signals identified. The most frequently reported treatment-emergent adverse events were constipation, diarrhea, back pain, dizziness, and headache. No clinically significant changes in laboratory parameters were observed, and RCF pharmacokinetics were unchanged in subjects with NASH. Alanine transaminase (ALT) reduction was greater in active subjects than in placebo groups. Nonparametric analysis suggested that ALT reductions were statistically different in the 225-mg cohort compared with matching placebo: -16.3 ± 25.5% versus -0.7 ± 13.4%, respectively. ProC3 and C6M reduction was statistically significant in groups having baseline ProC3 > 15.0 ng/ml. RCF was safe and well tolerated after 28 days in subjects with presumed F2/F3 NASH. Presence of NASH did not alter its pharmacokinetics. Reductions in ALT, ProC3, and C6M suggest direct antifibrotic effects with longer treatment duration. Reductions in key collagen genes support a mechanism of action via suppression and/or regression of collagen deposition. Conclusion: These results support advancement of rencofilstat into a larger and longer Phase 2b study.