Rationale: Nonsense (premature stop codon) mutations in mRNA for the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) cause cystic fibrosis (CF) in approximately 10% of patients. Ataluren (PTC124) is an oral drug that permits ribosomes to readthrough premature stop codons in mRNA to produce functional protein.
Objectives: To evaluate ataluren activity, safety, and pharmacokinetics in children with nonsense mutation CF.
Methods: Patients were assessed in two 28-day cycles, comprising 14 days on and 14 days off ataluren. Patients took ataluren three times per day (morning, midday, and evening) with randomization to the order of receiving a lower dose (4, 4, and 8 mg/kg) and a higher dose (10, 10, and 20 mg/kg) in the two cycles.
Measurements and main results: The study enrolled 30 patients (16 male and 14 female, ages 6 through 18 yr) with a nonsense mutation in at least one allele of the CFTR gene, a classical CF phenotype, and abnormal baseline nasal epithelial chloride transport. Ataluren induced a nasal chloride transport response (at least a -5-mV improvement) or hyperpolarization (value more electrically negative than -5 mV) in 50% and 47% of patients, respectively, with more hyperpolarizations at the higher dose. Improvements were seen in seven of nine nonsense mutation genotypes represented. Ataluren significantly increased the proportion of nasal epithelial cells expressing apical full-length CFTR protein. Adverse events and laboratory abnormalities were infrequent and usually mild. Ataluren pharmacokinetics were similar to those in adults.
Conclusions: In children with nonsense mutation CF, ataluren can induce functional CFTR production and is well tolerated.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00458341.