889bio, Preclinical and Clinical Development, Rehovot, Israel.
989bio, Preclinical and Clinical Development, San Francisco, CA, USA.
1089bio, Preclinical and Clinical Development, Rehovot, Israel. Electronic address: email@example.com.
Background: Management strategies for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are based predominantly on lifestyle modification, with no approved disease-modifying drugs yet available. We aimed to evaluate the safety, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of pegozafermin (BIO89-100), a glycoPEGylated FGF21 analogue, in participants with NASH.
Methods: This randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 1b/2a multiple-ascending-dose study enrolled adults (aged 21-75 years) who had NASH with stage F1-F3 fibrosis, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and a high risk of NASH (referred to in this study as phenotypic NASH) due to central obesity with type 2 diabetes, or central obesity with increased alanine aminotransferase (ALT) or a Fibroscan score of 7 kPa or greater, across 12 specialist centres and clinics in the USA. Patients were centrally randomised by use of an interactive web response system to receive subcutaneously administered pegozafermin (3, 9, 18, or 27 mg once weekly; 18 or 36 mg once every 2 weeks) or placebo for 12 weeks. The primary endpoints were the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of pegozafermin. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT04048135).
Findings: Between July 29, 2019, and Aug 3, 2020, 275 participants were screened and 81 (15 [19%] with biopsy-confirmed NASH) were randomly assigned: 62 to pegozafermin (six to 3 mg once weekly, 12 to 9 mg once weekly, 11 to 18 mg once weekly, ten to 27 mg once weekly, 14 to 18 mg once every 2 weeks, and nine to 36 mg once every 2 weeks) and 19 to placebo; 63 received pegozafermin and 18 received placebo, as one participant in the placebo group inadvertently received 3 mg pegozafermin once weekly. Adverse events were reported in eight (44%) of 18 participants in the pooled placebo group, six (86%) of seven in the 3 mg once weekly pegozafermin group, four (33%) of 12 in the 9 mg once weekly group, seven (64%) of 11 in the 18 mg once weekly group, seven (70%) of ten in the 27 mg once weekly group, eight (57%) of 14 in the 18 mg once every 2 weeks group, and eight (89%) of nine in the 36 mg once every 2 weeks group. The most common treatment-related adverse event was mild increased appetite (in ten [16%] of 63 participants in the pooled pegozafermin group vs none of 18 in the pooled placebo group), which was not associated with bodyweight gain. Two patients discontinued treatment due to an adverse event (one each in the 27 mg once weekly and 18 mg once every 2 weeks groups). No treatment-related serious adverse events or deaths occurred. Dose-proportional pharmacokinetics were observed. Anti-drug antibodies were detected in 41 (65%) of 63 participants treated with pegozafermin. By week 13, pegozafermin significantly reduced the least squares mean (LSM) absolute differences in hepatic fat fraction versus pooled placebo (-8·9% [95% CI -14·8 to -3·1; p=0·0032] for 3 mg once weekly, -11·5% [-16·1 to -6·9; p<0·0001] for 9 mg once weekly, -8·9% [-13·7 to -4·2; p=0·0004] for 18 mg once weekly, -14·9% [-20·1 to -9·7; p<0·0001] for 27 mg once weekly, -10·4% [-14·7 to -6·1; p<0·0001] for 18 mg once every 2 weeks, and -11·1% [-16·2 to -6·0; p<0·0001] for 36 mg once every 2 weeks). At week 13, significant LSM relative reductions versus pooled placebo in ALT were observed for pegozafermin 9 mg once weekly, 18 mg once weekly, 27 mg once weekly, and 36 mg once every 2 weeks. At week 13, significant LSM relative reductions versus pooled placebo in aspartate aminotransferase were observed for pegozafermin 3 mg once weekly, 27 mg once weekly, and 36 mg once every 2 weeks. Significant improvements were also observed with pegozafermin treatment for triglycerides (9 mg once weekly, 27 mg once weekly, and 18 mg once every 2 weeks), LDL-C (9 mg once weekly and 27 mg once weekly), HDL-C (3 mg once weekly and 18 mg once every 2 weeks), non-HDL-C (9 mg once weekly and 27 mg once weekly), adiponectin (all doses except for 36 mg once every 2 weeks), PRO-C3 (27 mg once weekly), and bodyweight (27 mg once weekly). Changes in insulin resistance and HbA1c were not significant.
Interpretation: Pegozafermin was generally well tolerated and associated with clinically meaningful reductions in liver fat, measures of liver function, and circulating lipids. Further evaluation of pegozafermin in individuals with NASH is warranted.