Drug improves measures of genetic disease that affects liver, spleen
Among previously untreated adults with Gaucher disease type 1, a genetic disease in which there is improper metabolism due to a defect in an enzyme, treatment with the drug eliglustat resulted in significant improvements in liver and spleen size hemoglobin level, and platelet count, according to a study in the February 17 issue of JAMA.
Gaucher disease type 1 is characterized by enlargement of the spleen and liver, anemia, low blood platelets, chronic bone pain, and the failure to grow properly. Untreated Gaucher disease type 1 is a chronic and progressive disorder associated with disability, reduced life expectancy, and, in some patients, life-threatening complications. The current standard of care is enzyme replacement therapy, which requires lifelong intravenous infusions every other week. A safe, effective oral therapy is needed, according to background information in the article.
Pramod K. Mistry, M.D., Ph.D., F.R.C.P., of the Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., and colleagues randomly assigned 40 untreated adults with Gaucher disease type 1 to receive eliglustat (twice daily; n = 20) or placebo (n = 20) for 9 months. Eliglustat is a novel oral medication, which showed favorable results for patients with this disease in a phase 2 trial. This phase 3 trial was conducted at 18 sites in 12 countries.
The researchers found that administration of eliglustat resulted in a reduction in spleen volume of approximately 30 percent compared with placebo, as well as improvements in hemoglobin level, decreased liver volume (-6.6 percent), and increased platelet count (41 percent). No serious adverse events occurred. No patient discontinued treatment over the course of the 9-month study because of a treatment-emergent adverse event.
Gaucher disease is a rare genetic disorder in which a person lacks an enzyme called glucocerebrosidase.
Glucocerebrosidase deficiency; Glucosylceramidase deficiency
Gaucher disease affects an estimated 1 in 50,000 to 1 in 100,000 people in the general population. Persons of Eastern and Central European (Ashkenazi) Jewish heritage are more likely to get this disease.
It is an autosomal recessive disease. This means that the mother and father must both pass one abnormal copy of the gene to the child in order for the child to develop the disease. A parent who silently carries an abnormal copy of the gene is called a carrier.
The lack of the glucocerebrosidase enzyme causes harmful substances to build up in the liver, spleen, bones, and bone marrow. The substances prevent cells and organs from working properly.
There are three main subtypes of Gaucher disease:
Type 1 disease is most common. It involves bone disease, anemia, an enlarged spleen and thrombocytopenia. Type I affects both children and adults. It is most common in the Ashkenazi Jewish population.
Type 2 disease usually begins in infancy with severe neurologic involvement. This form can lead to rapid, early death.
Type 3 disease may cause liver, spleen, and brain problems. Patients may live into adulthood.
The authors add that more definitive conclusions about clinical efficacy and utility will require comparison with the standard treatment of enzyme replacement therapy as well as longer-term follow-up.
(doi:10.1001/jama.2015.459; Available pre-embargo to the media at http://media.jamanetwork.com)
Editor’s Note: This trial was funded by Genzyme. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, etc.
The JAMA Network Journals
Tell-a-Friend comments powered by Disqus