Background: Siponimod is an oral selective modulator of sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor types 1 and type 5, with an elimination half-life leading to washout in 7 days. We aimed to determine the dose-response relation of siponimod in terms of its effects on brain MRI lesion activity and characterise safety and tolerability in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
Methods: In this double-blind, adaptive dose-ranging phase 2 study, we enrolled adults (aged 18-55 years) with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis at 73 medical centres in Europe and North America. We tested two patient cohorts sequentially, separated by an interim analysis at 3 months. We randomly allocated patients in cohort 1 (1:1:1:1) to receive once-daily siponimod 10 mg, 2 mg, or 0·5 mg, or placebo for 6 months. We randomly allocated patients in cohort 2 (4:4:1) to siponimod 1·25 mg, siponimod 0·25 mg, or placebo once-daily for 3 months. Randomisation was done with a central, automated system and patients and investigators were masked to treatment assignment. The primary endpoint was dose-response, assessed by percentage reduction in monthly number of combined unique active lesions at 3 months for siponimod versus placebo; this endpoint was analysed by a multiple comparison procedure with modelling techniques in all patients with at least one MRI scan up to 3 months. We assessed safety in all patients who received at least one dose of study drug. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00879658.
Findings: Between March 30, 2009, and Oct 22, 2010, we recruited 188 patients into cohort 1 and 109 patients into cohort 2. We showed a dose-response relation (p=0·0001) across the five doses of siponimod, with reductions in combined unique active lesions at 3 months compared with placebo of 35% (95% CI 17-57) for siponimod 0·25 mg (51 patients included in the primary endpoint analysis), 50% (29-69) for siponimod 0·5 mg (43 patients), 66% (48-80) for siponimod 1·25 mg (42 patients), 72% (57-84) for siponimod 2 mg (45 patients), and 82% (70-90) for siponimod 10 mg (44 patients). In patients treated for 6 months, 37 (86%) of 43 patients who received siponimod 0·5 mg had adverse events (eight serious), as did 48 (98%) of 49 patients who received siponimod 2 mg (four serious), 48 (96%) of 50 patients who received siponimod 10 mg (three serious), and 36 (80%) of 45 controls (none serious). For individuals treated to 3 months, 38 (74%) of 51 patients who received siponimod 0·25 mg had adverse events (none serious), as did 29 (69%) of 42 patients who received siponimod 1·25 mg (two serious) and 13 (81%) of 16 controls (none serious).
Interpretation: Therapeutic effects of siponimod on MRI lesion activity in model-based analyses and its tolerability in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis warrant investigation in a phase 3 trial.
Funding: Novartis Pharma AG.
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