Conference Coverage

Novel approaches to treating NASH in diabetes



– The investigational oral agent cenicriviroc showed positive effects on liver fibrosis in adults with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), many of whom had type 2 diabetes, in a phase 2b trial reported at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

Dr. Henrik Landgren

Other data released at the meeting, which showed potential positive effects of novel or existing diabetes treatments on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), included post hoc analyses of a phase 2b study with tirzepatide and a phase 3 study that combined exenatide and dapagliflozin.

Currently, no medications for NAFLD or NASH have been approved in the United States.

CENTAUR with cenicriviroc

Results of the previously reported CENTAUR trial showed that the antifibrotic effects of cenicriviroc, a dual chemokine receptor antagonist, were greatest in patients with more-severe liver disease (Hepatology. 2018;67[5]:1754-67). At the meeting, Henrik Landgren, PhD, of Allergan, presented data from the 2-year trial overall, and specifically in patients with advanced, stage 3 fibrosis.

CENTAUR was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multinational study with 289 adults who had biopsy-confirmed NASH, an NAFLD Activity Score (NAS; range, 0-8; score of 5 or more diagnostic of NASH) of 4 or more, and stages 1-3 liver fibrosis as determined by the NASH clinical research network system (Contemp Clin Trials. 2016;47:356-65). The mean age of the patients enrolled at baseline was 54 years, the mean body mass index was 33.9 kg/m2, and just more than half the patients (52%) had type 2 diabetes.

The patients were randomized to three treatment arms: cenicriviroc 150 mg for 2 years; placebo for 1 year, then cenicriviroc 150 mg for 1 year; or placebo for 2 years. The primary endpoint was histologic improvement (reduction of 2 or more points in overall NAS, with reduction of 1 or more points in more than one category of the NAS without worsening of fibrosis at the end of year 1. The key secondary endpoint was complete NASH resolution without worsening of fibrosis at year 2.

Dr. Landgren reported that, at year 1, of the total number of patients, 28.6% of those receiving cenicriviroc achieved an improvement in fibrosis of one or more stages, compared with 19.0% of those receiving placebo. Of the 97 patients who had advanced fibrosis at baseline, 38.3% of those on cenicriviroc and 28.0% of those on placebo achieved the same endpoint.

Those effects were sustained at year 2, Dr. Landgren emphasized, with twice as many cenicriviroc- than placebo-treated patients achieving one or more stage improvement in fibrosis and no worsening of NASH at year 2 (60% and 30%, respectively), with more pronounced improvements in those who had advanced fibrosis at baseline (86% and 60%).

In addition, analyses of biomarkers suggested that cenicriviroc had systematic anti-inflammatory activity, with reductions observed in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein; fibrinogen; and levels of interleukin-6, IL-8, and IL-1-beta.

Dr. Landgren and colleagues noted that cenicriviroc provided antifibrotic benefit in patients with NASH and fibrosis. Those benefits were sustained through year 2 and were more pronounced in patients who had advanced fibrosis at baseline.

The safety of cenicriviroc was “comparable with placebo,” he said, suggesting that the data supported the phase 3 AURORA study that is currently recruiting.

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