Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE: BMY) today announced results from the Phase IIb EMERGE clinical trial, in which treatment with the investigational compound PEG-Interferon lambda and ribavirin achieved higher rates of rapid virologic response (RVR) in genotypes 1, 2, 3, and 4, and complete early virologic response (cEVR) in genotypes 1 and 4 than the standard regimen of PEG-Interferon alfa and ribavirin in treatment-naïve patients chronically infected with hepatitis C (HCV). In this study, there were fewer flu-like and musculoskeletal symptoms and cytopenia, as well as fewer interferon and ribavirin dose reductions for anemia in the PEG-Interferon lambda arms up to 12 weeks. Rates of serious adverse events, depression and other common adverse events (incidence ≥10%) were similar across treatment arms up to week 12.
The EMERGE study findings were presented in a late-breaker oral session at the International Liver Congress (ILC), the 46th annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) in Berlin, Germany.
"There is a significant unmet medical need for more therapies that can benefit more hepatitis C patients. This is especially true for patients with HCV genotypes 1 and 4, who generally have lower response rates to treatment with PEG-Interferon alfa and ribavirin than patients with other genotypes," said Stefan Zeuzem, MD, chief of the department of medicine and professor of medicine at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Hospital in Frankfurt, Germany. "The EMERGE study results demonstrate that PEG-Interferon lambda may have the potential to help address this unmet need, and support further studies of this new type of investigational interferon."
PEG-Interferon lambda is the first investigational type III interferon. Interferon lambda mediates antiviral activity through a receptor that is distinct from that used by interferon alfa and is present on fewer cell types within the tissues of the body. This restricted distribution of the interferon lambda receptor offers the potential for more targeted delivery of interferon therapy.
Viral Response: HCV Genotypes 1 and 4
In this study, HCV genotype 1 and 4 patients treated with PEG-Interferon lambda achieved statistically significant (p<0.05) higher rates of cEVR (primary study endpoint) versus PEG-Interferon alfa at all doses [lambda 240 µg: 56.3%]
Viral Response: HCV Genotypes 2 and 3
In patients with HCV genotypes 2 and 3, treatment with all doses of PEG-Interferon lambda achieved cEVR rates similar to PEG-Interferon alfa [lambda 240 µg: 83.3%].
In this study, rates of adverse events commonly associated with interferon treatment were lower with PEG-Interferon lambda than with PEG-Interferon alfa. These adverse events included flu-like symptoms (lambda 240 µg: 9.7%; lambda 180 µg: 9.9%; lambda 120 µg: 12.5%; alfa: 42.9%), musculoskeletal symptoms (lambda 240 µg: 14.2%; lambda 180 µg: 14.5%; lambda 120 µg: 18.0%; alfa: 46.6%), neutropenia < 750/mm³ (lambda 240 µg: 0.0%; lambda 180 µg: 0.8%; lambda 120 µg: 0.0%; alfa: 15.2%), anemia with hemoglobin < 10 g/dL (lambda 240 µg: 12.9%; lambda 180 µg: 15.4%; lambda 120 µg: 20.5%; alfa: 43.9%.) and thrombocytopenia < 50K/mm³ (lambda 240 µg: 0.0%; lambda 180 µg: 0.0%; lambda 120 µg: 0.0%; alfa: 14.4%).
The proportion of patients that required interferon dose reductions were: lambda 240 µg: 12.7%; lambda 180 µg: 3.8%; lambda 120 µg: 0.8%; alfa: 18.8%, and the proportion of patients that withheld and/or reduced ribavirin were: lambda 240 µg: 11.2%; lambda 180 µg: 4.6%; lambda 120 µg: 10.2%; alfa: 20.3%. The proportion of patients who required ribavirin dose reductions for anemia were: lambda 240 µg: 0.7%; lambda 180 µg: 1.5%; lambda 120 µg: 2.3%; alfa: 12.8%.
Rates of serious adverse events, depression and other common adverse events (≥10%) were similar across treatment arms. Higher rates of elevated liver enzymes [AST or ALT >5x the upper limit of normal (ULN)] were seen in the highest-dose PEG-Interferon lambda treatment arm compared with PEG-Interferon alfa (lambda 240 µg: 17.4%; lambda 180 µg: 2.3%; lambda 120 µg: 0.8%; alfa: 7.6%), and direct bilirubin was also elevated (>1.2 mg/dL) in the highest-dose PEG-Interferon lambda treatment arm compared with PEG-Interferon alfa (lambda 240 µg: 7.6%; lambda 180 µg: 3.9%; lambda 120 µg: 0.8%; alfa: 0.8%); all resolved spontaneously without sequelae or following interferon dose modification and/or discontinuation.
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