Conference Coverage

Dupilumab hits the mark for severe AD in younger children



The monoclonal antibody dupilumab significantly improved symptoms of atopic dermatitis (AD) in grade school-aged children, according to new clinical trial results.

In a cohort of children with severe AD, 33% achieved clear or nearly clear skin after 16 weeks of treatment with every 4-week dosing of the injectable medication, while 30% also achieved that mark when receiving a weight-based dose every 2 weeks. Both groups had results that were significantly better than those receiving placebo, with 11% of these children had clear or nearly clear skin by 16 weeks of dupilumab (Dupixent) therapy (P less than .0001 for both therapy arms versus placebo).

“Dupilumab with a topical corticosteroid showed clinically meaningful and statistically significant improvement in the atopic dermatitis signs and symptoms in children aged 6 to less than 12 years of age with severe atopic dermatitis,” said Amy Paller, MD, the Walter J. Hamlin professor and chair of the department of dermatology at Northwestern University, Chicago, presenting the results at the Revolutionizing Atopic Dermatitis virtual symposium. Portions of the conference, which has been rescheduled to December 2020, in Chicago, were presented virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The phase 3 trial of subcutaneously injected dupilumab for atopic dermatitis, dubbed LIBERTY AD PEDS, included children aged 6-11 years with severe AD. The study’s primary endpoint was the proportion of patients achieving a score of 0 or 1 (clear or almost clear skin) on the Investigator’s Global Assessment (IGA) scale by study week 16.

For the purposes of reporting results to the European Medicines Agency, the investigators added a coprimary endpoint of patients reaching 75% clearing on the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI-75) by week 16.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial enrolled 367 children with IGA scores of 4, denoting severe AD. The EASI score had to be at least 21 and patients had to endorse peak pruritus of at least 4 on a 0-10 numeric rating scale; body surface involvement had to be at least 15%. Patients went through a washout period of any systemic therapies before beginning the trial, which randomized patients 1:1:1 to receive placebo, dupilumab 300 mg every 4 weeks, or dupilumab every 2 weeks with weight-dependent dosing. All participants were also permitted topical corticosteroids.

Patients were an average of aged 8 years, about half were female, and about two-thirds were white. Most participants had developed AD within their first year of life. Patients were about evenly divided between weighing over and under 30 kg, which was the cutoff for 100 mcg versus 200 mcg dupilumab for the every-2-week dosing group.

Over 90% of patients had other atopic comorbidities, and the mean EASI score was about 38 with average weekly peak pruritus averaging 7.8 on the numeric rating scale.

“When we’re talking about how severe this population is, it’s interesting to note that about 30 to 35% were all that had been previously treated with either systemic steroids or some systemic nonsteroidal immunosuppressants,” Dr. Paller pointed out. “I think that reflects the fact that so many of these very severely affected children are not put on a systemic therapy, but are still staying on topical therapies to try to control their disease.”

Looking at the proportion of patients reaching EASI-75, both dosing strategies for dupilumab out-performed placebo, with 70% of the every 4-week group and 67% of the every 2-week group reaching EASI-75 at 16 weeks, compared with 27% of those on placebo (P less than .0001 for both active arms). “These differences were seen very early on; by 2 weeks already, we can see that we’re starting to see a difference in both of these arms,” noted Dr. Paller, adding that the difference was statistically significant by 4 weeks into the study.

The overall group of dupilumab participants saw their EASI scores drop by about 80%, while those taking placebo saw a 49% drop in EASI scores.

For the group of participants weighing less than 30 kg, the every 4-week strategy resulted in better clearing as measured by both IGA and EASI-75. This effect wasn’t seen for heavier patients. Trough dupilumab concentrations at 16 weeks were higher for lighter patients with every 4-week dosing and for heavier patients with the biweekly strategy, noted Dr. Paller.

In terms of itch, 60% to 68% of participants receiving dupilumab had a drop of at least 3 points in peak pruritus on the numeric rating scale, compared with 21% of those receiving placebo (P less than .001), while about half of the dupilumab groups and 12% of the placebo group saw pruritus improvements of 4 points or more (P less than .001). Pruritus improved early in the active arms of the study, becoming statistically significant at the 2 to 4 week range.

Treatment-emergent adverse events were numerically higher in patients in the placebo group, including infections and adjudicated skin infections. Conjunctivitis occurred more frequently in the dupilumab group, as did injection-site reactions.

“Overall, dupilumab was well tolerated, and data were consistent with the known dupilumab safety profile observed in adults and adolescents,” Dr. Paller said.

Dupilumab has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat moderate to severe AD in those aged 12 years and older whose disease can’t be adequately controlled with topical prescription medications, or when those treatments are not advisable.

The fully human monoclonal antibody blocks a shared receptor component for interleukin-4 and interleukin-13, which contribute to inflammation in AD, as well as asthma, chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps, and eosinophilic esophagitis.

Dr. Paller reported receiving support from multiple pharmaceutical companies including Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which sponsored the study.

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