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Clinical Trials
Nov 2012

Safety and Tolerability of the γ-Secretase Inhibitor Avagacestat in a Phase 2 Study of Mild to Moderate Alzheimer Disease

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Bristol-Myers Squibb, Wallingford, Connecticut (Drs Coric, Pilcher, Rollin, Dockens, Soares, Albright, Feldman, and Berman and Ms Colby); Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut (Dr van Dyck); Alpert Medical School, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island (Dr Salloway); Karolinska Institutet, Solna, Sweden (Dr Andreasen); Brain Matters Research, Delray Beach, Florida (Dr Brody); University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Tulsa (Dr Richter); University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland (Dr Soininen); Pacific Research Network, Inc, San Diego, California (Dr Thein); California Neuroscience Research Medical Group Inc, Sherman Oaks (Dr Shiovitz); BioClinica Inc, Newtown, Pennsylvania (Dr Pachai); and Clinical Neurochemistry Laboratory, Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Mölndal, Sweden (Drs Portelius, Andreasson, and Blennow).

Arch Neurol. 2012;69(11):1430-1440. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2012.2194

Objective To assess the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic effects of the γ-secretase inhibitor avagacestat in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease (AD).

Design Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 24-week phase 2 study.

Setting Global, multicenter trial.

Patients A total of 209 outpatients with mild to moderate AD were randomized into the double-blind treatment phase. The median age of the patients was 75 years, 58.9% were APOE ϵ4 carriers, and baseline measures of disease severity were similar among groups.

Intervention Avagacestat, 25, 50, 100, or 125 mg daily, or placebo administered orally daily.

Main Outcome Measures Safety and tolerability of avagacestat.

Results Discontinuation rates for the 25-mg and 50-mg doses of avagacestat were comparable with placebo but were higher in the 100-mg and 125-mg dose groups. Trends for worsening cognition, as measured by change from baseline Alzheimer Disease Assessment Scale cognitive subscale score, were observed in the 100-mg and 125-mg dose groups. Treatment-emergent serious adverse events were similar across placebo and treatment groups. The most common reason for discontinuation was adverse events, predominantly gastrointestinal and dermatologic. Other adverse events occurring more frequently in patients undergoing treatment included reversible glycosuria (without associated serum glucose changes), nonmelanoma skin cancer, and asymptomatic magnetic resonance imaging findings. Exploratory cerebrospinal fluid amyloid isoforms and tau biomarker analysis demonstrated dose-dependent but not statistically significant reductions in a small subset of patients.

Conclusions Avagacestat dosed at 25 and 50 mg daily was relatively well tolerated and had low discontinuation rates. The 100-mg and 125-mg dose arms were poorly tolerated with trends for cognitive worsening. Exploratory cerebrospinal fluid biomarker substudies provide preliminary support for γ-secretase target engagement, but additional studies are warranted to better characterize pharmacodynamic effects at the 25- and 50-mg doses. This study establishes an acceptable safety and tolerability dose range for future avagacestat studies in AD.

Trial Registration clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00810147