At 52 Weeks, Hair Growth Still Climbing On Deuruxolitinib


                                                                 By Ted Bosworth

The open-label extension trials of deuruxolitinib for alopecia areata in adults show a persistent climb in response with the majority of patients achieving complete or near complete hair regrowth by 52 weeks, according to data presented at the annual congress of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

With response curves still climbing at follow-up to date, the results are "truly, truly remarkable," said Brett King, MD, PhD, associate professor of dermatology, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

Deuruxolitinib is a JAK inhibitor that has specificity for the 1 and 2 subtypes. At 24 weeks in the phase 3 THRIVE-AA1 and THRIVE-AA2 trials, presented at the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting earlier this year, about 40% of those on the 12-mg twice-daily dose and 32% of those on the 8-mg twice-daily dose achieved a Severity of Alopecia Tool (SALT) score of ≤ 20%, signifying 80% or greater hair regrowth at 24 weeks. The placebo response was 0%.

By 52 weeks, the proportion had climbed to 62% among those on continuous deuruxolitinib whether maintained on the 8-mg or 12-mg twice daily doses. Among patients on placebo, 58.4% reached this endpoint after being switched at 24 weeks to the 12-mg twice daily dose. Of the patients on placebo switched to 8 mg twice daily, the 52-week response was 45.2%, according to Dr. King.

There were 741 patients available at 52 weeks for this on-going analysis. The mean SALT scores at entry exceeded 80%, meaning complete or near complete hair loss. The substantial proportion of patients who met the primary endpoint of SALT ≤ 20 at the end of the blinded period was encouraging, but Dr. King said that the 52-week results are important, not only showing the response was sustained, but that greater regrowth occurs over time.

"Alopecia takes time to treat," said Dr. King, summarizing the lesson from these data. Moreover, he added that the long-term data are likely to under represent the absolute benefit even if no further growth is achieved with even longer follow-up. One reason is that missing long-term data were accounted for with a last-observation-carried-forward approach.

In other words, "this is the floor when considering response at 52 weeks," Dr. King said. "In the real world, where adjunctive measures such as intralesional Kenalog [triamcinolone acetonide] or topical treatments are added, we are likely to do even better," he added.

Adverse events remained low

Treatment-emergent adverse events remained low with "nothing particularly surprising," Dr. King said. The rate of serious adverse events over 52 weeks was less than 2% on either dose of deuruxolitinib. The proportion of patients who discontinued treatment because of an adverse event was 0.7% in the 8-mg twice-daily arm and 1.1% in the 12-mg twice-daily arm.

Most approved oral JAK inhibitors carry a boxed warning based on a trial conducted with the relatively nonspecific tofacitinib. The trial enrolled older patients with rheumatoid arthritis at risk for thrombotic events, raising questions about its relevance to selective JAK inhibitors employed for other indications. There was only one thrombosis observed in the 52-week alopecia areata follow-up in a patient on deuruxolitinib. Dr. King noted that this patient, who was obese and was on the higher of the two doses, had multiple comorbidities, including systemic lupus erythematosus.

There were no major adverse cardiac events reported in long-term follow-up or cases of tuberculosis. The rate of opportunistic infections was 0.1% in the 8-mg twice-daily arm and 0.2% in the 12-mg twice-daily arm. Serious infections were observed in 0.6% and 0.4% of these two arms, respectively. There were four malignancies (0.5%) in each of the two study arms.

Of the side effects likely to be related to deuruxolitinib, acne was observed in about 10% of patients on either dose. The mechanism is unclear, but Dr. King reported this has been commonly observed with other JAK inhibitors.

Asked his opinion about the optimal starting dose of deuruxolitinib, Dr. King said, "in my mind, the efficacy of 8 mg is so impressive that I would not struggle at all in starting there," noting that the higher dose could be considered with a slow or inadequate response.

Two JAK inhibitors are already approved

If approved for alopecia areata, deuruxolitinib will be the third JAK inhibitor available for this indication, following the recent approvals of baricitinib and ritlecitinib.

Calling JAK inhibitors "a major advance in the treatment of alopecia areata, particularly for those patients with severe, refractory disease," Lynne Goldberg, MD, professor of dermatology at Boston University, and director of the hair clinic, Boston Medical Center, said that the proportion of patients with SALT scores ≤ 20 at 52-weeks is "huge."

She is generally comfortable with the safety of the JAK inhibitors for alopecia areata.

"I believe that, in general, these medications are well tolerated in the alopecia areata population, particularly in otherwise healthy, young patients," she said, indicating the benefit-to-risk ratio is particularly acceptable when disease is severe.

"This disease has tremendous emotional and functional implications, and many patients with severe or recurrent disease are willing to chance the side effects to live with a full head of hair," she said. She added that well-informed patients can "make their own, individual assessment."

Dr. King has financial relationships with approximately 20 pharmaceutical companies, including Concert Pharmaceuticals, which makes deuruxolitinib and provided funding for this study. Dr. Goldberg reports no financial conflicts relevant to this topic.


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    • Editor-in Chief:
    • Theodore Massey
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