Conference Coverage

New antibody cuts the fat in NAFLD



– A new bispecific antibody, BFKB8488A, may be able to reduce hepatic fat fraction and improve liver health in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to investigators.

In a phase 1b trial, treatment with tolerable doses of the antibody reduced hepatic fat fraction by a mean of 38%, reported lead author Rebecca Kunder, MD, PhD, medical director at Genentech in San Francisco, and colleagues.

According to the investigators, BFKB8488A, which is also being tested in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, binds two adipocyte proteins: fibroblast growth factor receptor type 1c and Klotho beta, thereby mimicking metabolic hormone FGF21.

The present trial involved 63 patients with NAFLD who had at least 10% hepatic fat fraction based on MRI. Patients were randomized and for 12 weeks received placebo, one of four doses ranging from 50 to 130 mg given every 2 weeks, a dose of 250 mg given every 4 weeks, or an escalating dose regimen (the results of which were not reported). Treatments were blinded and delivered subcutaneously.

BFKB8488A was generally safe; the trial finished without life-threatening adverse events or deaths. Still, gastrointestinal issues became more common with higher doses, leading the investigators to identify well-tolerated doses as those of 100 mg or less, given every 2 weeks.

The investigators reported efficacy results for patients who received these lower doses, with outcomes presented as mean percentage changes in biomarkers from baseline to 12 weeks.

Adipose-specific pharmacodynamic effect was demonstrated by a mean increase in adiponectin of up to 17%. Positive cardiometabolic effects were also reported, with HDL cholesterol increasing 14% and triglyceride decreasing 24%. In addition, several other markers of liver health improved. Patients with baseline elevations of ALT had decreases in this marker of 10%-30%; plasma type 3 collagen propeptide, which is a measure of fibrosis, fell by 37%; and hepatic fat fraction, as previously stated, decreased by 38%, with a standard deviation of 25%. In contrast, treatment with placebo was associated with a mean 0% change in fat fraction, with a standard deviation of 28%.

“In patients with NAFLD, well-tolerated doses of BFKB8488A were highly effective at decreasing hepatic fat fraction and improving liver health,” the investigators concluded in an abstract that will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

According to the investigators, clinical efficacy of the antibody will be assessed in a phase 2 trial involving patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

The investigators reported financial relationships with Genentech and Gilead.

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SOURCE: Kunder R et al. The Liver Meeting 2019, Abstract LP8.

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