Background.Luspatercept (ACE-536) is a modified activin receptor type IIB fusion protein that promotes late-stage erythroid differentiation. In beta-thalassemia, imbalanced production of alpha and beta globin chains in erythroid precursors causes ineffective erythropoiesis (IE) leading to anemia and dysregulated iron homeostasis. In a mouse model of beta-thalassemia, luspatercept corrected the effects of ineffective erythropoiesis and in a phase 1 clinical study with healthy volunteers, was well tolerated and increased hemoglobin (Suragani R, Nat Med, 2014; Suragani R, Blood, 2014; Attie K, Am J Hematol, 2014).
Aims.This is an ongoing, phase 2, multicenter, open-label, dose-finding study followed by a long-term extension study to evaluate the effects of luspatercept in patients (pts) with either transfusion-dependent (TD) or non-transfusion dependent (NTD) beta-thalassemia with the following key endpoints: erythroid response (including Hgb increase) and patient-reported quality-of-life (QoL) measures in NTD patients, and reductions in RBC transfusion burden in TD patients.
Methods.Inclusion criteria included age ≥ 18 yr and either TD (defined as ≥ 4 RBC units transfused in the 8 weeks prior to first dose, confirmed over 6 months) or NTD (defined as < 4 RBC units transfused in the 8 weeks prior to first dose with baseline Hgb < 10.0 g/dL). Luspatercept was administered subcutaneously every 3 weeks for up to 5 doses over 12 weeks with an 8 week follow-up (20 weeks total). Six cohorts (n=35) were treated at dose levels from 0.2-1.25 mg/kg. Pts in the expansion cohort (n=29) and all pts who rolled over to the extension study (n=51) were treated at ≥ 0.8 mg/kg with escalation up to 1.25 mg/kg.
Results. A total of 30 TD pts enrolled in the base study and, of those, 24 enrolled in the extension study (data as of 11 March 2016). Data summarized are for the long-term extension study. Median age was 38 yr (range 22-55 yr), 67% had prior splenectomy. At baseline, median transfusion burden was 8 units/12 weeks (range 4-15 units) and mean (SD) liver iron concentration (LIC) was 5.1 (5.3) mg/g dw. A total of 20/24 (83%) and 16/24 (67%) TD pts achieved a ≥ 33% and ≥ 50% decrease in transfusion burden over any 12-week period compared to baseline, respectively. Duration of response ranged from 12 to 48+ weeks.
A total of 34 NTD pts enrolled in the base study and, of those, 27 enrolled in the extension study (data as of 11 March 2016). Data summarized are for the long-term extension study. Median age was 37 yr (range 23-62 yr); 67% had prior splenectomy. At baseline, median Hgb was 8.7 g/dL (range 7.6-9.8 g/dL) and mean (SD) LIC was 4.9 (3.4) mg/g dw. A total of 21/27 (78%) and 15/27 (56%) NTD pts achieved ≥ 1.0 g/dL and ≥ 1.5 g/dL increases, respectively, in mean Hgb over any 12-week period compared to baseline. Duration of response ranged from 16 to 72+ weeks, with no trend for lower Hgb response over time. Increases in mean hemoglobin over a 12-week period correlated with increases in a pt-reported QoL questionnaire, FACIT-F (r=0.67, p=0.001). 3/5 (60%) pts with baseline LIC ≥ 5 mg/g dw had a decrease in LIC ≥ 2 mg/g dw after at least 6 months of treatment; 8/9 (89%) patients with baseline LIC < 5 mg/g dw maintained LIC < 5 mg/g dw.
Luspatercept was generally well tolerated, with no related SAEs. AEs were mostly mild-moderate. The most frequent related AEs (≥ 10% in base + extension studies) in TD pts were bone pain, myalgia, arthralgia, headache, asthenia, and musculoskeletal pain. The most frequent related AEs (≥ 10% in base + extension studies) in NTD pts were bone pain, headache, musculoskeletal pain, and arthralgia.
Conclusions: Luspatercept treatment in pts with beta-thalassemia had a favorable safety profile. Efficacy was clinically relevant in both NTD pts (increased Hgb levels, decreased LIC, and improved quality of life) and TD pts (decreased RBC transfusions). A Phase 3, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of luspatercept in regularly transfused adults with beta-thalassemia is ongoing (NCT02604433).
Zhang:Acceleron Pharma: Employment. Wilson:Acceleron Pharma: Employment, Equity Ownership. Leneus:Acceleron Pharma: Employment. Laadem:Celgene Corporation: Employment, Equity Ownership. Sherman:Acceleron Pharma: Employment, Equity Ownership, Patents & Royalties. Attie:Acceleron Pharma: Employment, Equity Ownership.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.
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