BOSTON – Treatment with novel agent DUR-928 may be able to reduce mortality rates among patients with severe alcoholic hepatitis, investigators predicted.
In an open-label, phase IIa trial, 89% of patients with alcoholic hepatitis responded to treatment with the new therapy, reported lead author, of Southern California Research Center in Coronado, Calif., and colleagues.
In an abstract that will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, the investigators explained the urgent need for an agent such as DUR-928: “The mortality of severe alcoholic hepatitis remains high in the absence of effective treatment,” they wrote, noting that corticosteroids are only suitable for select patients. According to the investigators, DUR-928 is an endogenous sulfated oxysterol that has been shown to control lipotoxicity and inflammation while increasing hepatic regeneration and cell survival.
The agent was tested among 19 patients with alcoholic hepatitis, many of whom had severe disease; at baseline, 15 had Maddrey’s discriminant function (DF) scores of 32 or less, 12 had Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) scores between 12 and 30, and 11 had serum bilirubin levels higher than 8 mg/dL.
Via intravenous infusion, three dose levels were given: 30 mg, 90 mg, or 150 mg. All patients received at least one dose on day 1, and if still hospitalized, a second dose on day 4, with a total follow-up of 28 days. Treatment response was defined by a Lille score of less than 0.45.
DUR-928 was well tolerated; no serious drug-related adverse events occurred and all patients survived the 28-day follow-up period. Across the population, the response rate was 89%. This figure fell slightly to 87% when considering only patients with severe disease (DF scores of 32 or less), and marginally further still to 83% for those with MELD scores between 21 and 30. Among patients with severe disease, MELD scores decreased by a median of 17.5% (P = .01) over the 28-day period, and in cases with bilirubin starting higher than 8 mg/dL, levels dropped by a median of 25.1% (P = .02) within the first week.
A comparison of these results with historical data revealed that treatment with DUR-928 led to significantly better Lille scores than previously reported (P less than .0001).
“These initial findings are encouraging for further development of DUR-928 in patients with alcoholic hepatitis, including severe alcoholic hepatitis,” the investigators concluded.
The investigators disclosed relationships with DURECT Corporation, Assembly Biosciences, Gilead, and others.
SOURCE: Hassanein T et al. The Liver Meeting 2019, .