Background: We tested the safety and efficacy of eculizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody against terminal complement protein C5 that inhibits terminal complement activation, in patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH).
Methods: We conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter, phase 3 trial. Patients received either placebo or eculizumab intravenously; eculizumab was given at a dose of 600 mg weekly for 4 weeks, followed 1 week later by a 900-mg dose and then 900 mg every other week through week 26. The two primary end points were the stabilization of hemoglobin levels and the number of units of packed red cells transfused. Biochemical indicators of intravascular hemolysis and the patients' quality of life were also assessed.
Results: Eighty-seven patients underwent randomization. Stabilization of hemoglobin levels in the absence of transfusions was achieved in 49% (21 of 43) of the patients assigned to eculizumab and none (0 of 44) of those assigned to placebo (P<0.001). During the study, a median of 0 units of packed red cells was administered in the eculizumab group, as compared with 10 units in the placebo group (P<0.001). Eculizumab reduced intravascular hemolysis, as shown by the 85.8% lower median area under the curve for lactate dehydrogenase plotted against time (in days) in the eculizumab group, as compared with the placebo group (58,587 vs. 411,822 U per liter; P<0.001). Clinically significant improvements were also found in the quality of life, as measured by scores on the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue instrument (P<0.001) and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire. Of the 87 patients, 4 in the eculizumab group and 9 in the placebo group had serious adverse events, none of which were considered to be treatment-related; all these patients recovered without sequelae.
Conclusions: Eculizumab is an effective therapy for PNH.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00122330.
2006 Massachusetts Medical Society