Laquinimod Fails to Slow Brain Atrophy and PPMS Progression, Says Developer Active Biotech

Marta Figueiredo, PhD avatar

by Marta Figueiredo, PhD |

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Sweden’s Active Biotech said its experimental therapy Laquinimod failed to meet the primary and secondary objectives of Phase 2 clinical trial evaluating the drug’s potential to treat primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS).

Laquinimod, also known as Nerventra or ABR-215062, was developed by Active Biotech and Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. The drug targets inflammation and degeneration in neurological tissue.

Preclinical studies using animal models of multiple sclerosis showed that laquinimod regulated inflammatory and immune responses in these animals, reducing disease progression.

The ARPEGGIO Phase 2 study (NCT02284568) aimed to evaluate laquinimod’s efficacy, safety and tolerability in PPMS patients. Its primary endpoint was brain atrophy as defined by percent brain volume change (PBVC). Secondary goals included time to disability progression, change in timed 25-foot walk, and number of new T2 lesions.

The multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial enrolled 374 individuals. Initially, the study aimed to evaluate two doses of laquinimod — 0.6 and 1.5 mg/day — in PPMS compared to placebo. However, the highest dose was discontinued in January 2016 after some participants reported adverse cardiovascular events.

In a Dec. 1 press release, Active Biotech said the lower dose of laquinimod failed to slow both the rate of brain atrophy and disease progression. “There was, however, a reduction in new T2 lesions observed in patients treated with laquinimod 0.6 mg,” said the company’s president and CEO, Helén Tuvesson.

The trial revealed a similar safety profile to that observed in previous studies in relapsing-remitting MS patients (RRMS). The most common adverse reactions were headache, nasopharyngities, upper respiratory tract infection,and back pain. Results of the ARPEGGIO trial will likely be presented at a future scientific conference and published in a scientific journal.

Earlier this year, Active Biotec stopped developing laquinimod as a potential RRMS treatment after a Phase 3 study failed to achieve its primary goal: slowing disease progression.

Laquinimod is also being evaluated as a potential therapy for Huntington’s disease in a Phase 2 clinical trial (NCT02215616).

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