Pegvaliase for the treatment of phenylketonuria: Results of the phase 2 dose-finding studies with long-term follow-up

Burton, B. K.; Longo, N.; Vockley, J.; Grange, D. K.; Harding, C. O.; Decker, C.; Li, M.; Lau, K.; Rosen, O.; Larimore, K.; Thomas, J.

Mol Genet Metab. 2020 Jul 1; 130(4):239-246


BACKGROUND: Phenylketonuria (PKU) is characterized by a deficiency in phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) that may lead to elevated blood phenylalanine (Phe) and significant neurocognitive and neuropsychological comorbidities. Pegvaliase (PALYNZIQ®, BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc.) is a PEGylated recombinant Anabaena variabilis phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), which converts Phe to trans-cinnamic acid and ammonia, and was approved in May 2018 in the United States and in May 2019 in the European Union for decreasing blood Phe levels in adults with PKU with blood Phe levels >600 μmol/L. The efficacy and safety of pegvaliase was assessed in two phase 2 dose-finding studies in adults with PKU (PAL-002, NCT00925054, and PAL-004, NCT01212744). Participants completing these studies could enroll in a long-term extension study (PAL-003, NCT00924703). METHODS: Participants in PAL-002 received pegvaliase 0.001, 0.003, 0.01, 0.03, or 0.1 mg/kg weekly for 8 weeks, then continued treatment for a further 8 weeks with dose and/or frequency adjusted to achieve blood Phe concentrations of 60 to 600 μmol/L. Participants in PAL-004 received pegvaliase 0.001 to 0.4 mg/kg 5 days/week for 13 weeks, with modifications made to the starting dose in response to safety and/or efficacy, followed by 3 additional weeks of follow-up assessments. The maximum allowable daily dose in both studies was 1.0 mg/kg/day (5.0 mg/kg/week). Participants who completed any of the phase 2 studies (PAL-002; PAL-004; or a third phase 2 study, 165-205) were eligible to enroll in an open-label, multicenter, long-term extension study (PAL-003, NCT00924703). RESULTS: Thirty-seven of the 40 enrolled participants completed PAL-002 and 15 of the 16 enrolled participants completed PAL-004. Mean blood Phe at baseline was 1311.0 (standard deviation [SD] 354) μmol/L in PAL-002 and 1482.1 (SD 363.5) μmol/L in PAL-004. Mean blood Phe did not substantially decrease with pegvaliase treatment in PAL-002 (-206.3 [SD 287.1] μmol/L at Week 16) or PAL-004 (-410.8 [SD 653.7] μmol/L at Week 13). In PAL-004, mean blood Phe dropped from baseline by 929.1 μmol/L (SD 691.1) by Week 2; subsequent to dose modifications and interruptions, this early decrease in mean Phe level was not sustained. With increased pegvaliase dose and duration in PAL-003, mean blood Phe levels steadily decreased from baseline, with mean reductions by Week 120 of 68.8% (SD 44.2%) in PAL-002 participants and 75.9% (SD 32.4%) in PAL-004 participants. All participants in PAL-002 and PAL-004 reported ≥1 adverse event (AE), with higher exposure-adjusted event rates in PAL-004. The majority of AEs were mild (87.2% in PAL-002, 86.7% in PAL-004) or moderate (12.4% in PAL-002, 13.3% in PAL-004). The most commonly reported AEs in PAL-002 were injection site reaction (50.0% of participants), headache (42.1%), injection site erythema (36.8%), nausea (34.2%), and arthralgia (29.0%), and in PAL-004 were arthralgia (75.0%), headache (62.5%), dizziness (56.3%), injection site erythema (56.3%), and injection site reaction (50.0%). CONCLUSIONS: In two phase 2 dose-finding studies, pegvaliase did not lead to substantial blood Phe reductions. Higher and more frequent pegvaliase dosing in PAL-004 led to a substantial initial drop in blood Phe, but an increase in the number of hypersensitivity AEs and dose reductions or interruptions. With increased dose and duration of treatment in PAL-003, mean blood Phe reduction was substantial and sustained, and the frequency of hypersensitivity AEs decreased and stabilized. Together, these studies led to the development of an induction-titration-maintenance regimen that has been approved for pegvaliase, with patients starting at a low weekly dose that gradually increases in dose and frequency until they achieve a standard non-weight-based daily maintenance dose. This regimen has been tested in a third phase 2 study, as well as in two successful phase 3 studies of pegvaliase.

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