Safety and efficacy of drisapersen for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DEMAND II): an exploratory, randomised, placebo-controlled phase 2 study

Lancet Neurol. 2014 Oct;13(10):987-96. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(14)70195-4. Epub 2014 Sep 7.


Background: Duchenne muscular dystrophy is caused by dystrophin deficiency and muscle deterioration and preferentially affects boys. Antisense-oligonucleotide-induced exon skipping allows synthesis of partially functional dystrophin. We investigated the efficacy and safety of drisapersen, a 2'-O-methyl-phosphorothioate antisense oligonucleotide, given for 48 weeks.

Methods: In this exploratory, double-blind, placebo-controlled study we recruited male patients (≥5 years of age; time to rise from floor ≤7 s) with Duchenne muscular dystrophy from 13 specialist centres in nine countries between Sept 1, 2010, and Sept 12, 2012. By use of a computer-generated randomisation sequence, we randomly allocated patients (2:2:1:1; block size of six; no stratification) to drisapersen 6 mg/kg or placebo, each given subcutaneously and either continuously (once weekly) or intermittently (nine doses over 10 weeks). The primary endpoint was change in 6-min walk distance (6MWD) at week 25 in patients in the intention-to-treat population for whom data were available. Safety assessments included renal, hepatic, and haematological monitoring and recording of adverse events. This trial is registered with, number NCT01153932.

Findings: We recruited 53 patients: 18 were given continuous drisapersen, 17 were given intermittent drisapersen, and 18 were given placebo (continuous and intermittent groups combined). At week 25, mean 6MWD had increased by 31·5 m (SE 9·8) from baseline for continuous drisapersen, with a mean difference in change from baseline of 35·09 m (95% CI 7·59 to 62·60; p=0·014) versus placebo. We recorded no difference in 6MWD changes from baseline between intermittent drisapersen (mean change -0·1 [SE 10·3]) and placebo (mean difference 3·51 m [-24·34 to 31·35]) at week 25. The most common adverse events in drisapersen-treated patients were injection-site reactions (14 patients given continuous drisapersen, 15 patients given intermittent drisapersen, and six given placebo) and renal events (13 for continuous drisapersen, 12 for intermittent drisapersen, and seven for placebo), most of which were subclinical proteinuria. None of the serious adverse events reported (one for continuous, two for intermittent, and two for placebo) resulted in withdrawal from the study.

Interpretation: Continuous drisapersen resulted in some benefit in 6MWD versus placebo at week 25. The safety findings are similar to those from previous studies. Ambulation improvements in this young population with early-stage Duchenne muscular dystrophy are encouraging but need to be confirmed in larger studies.

Funding: GlaxoSmithKline, Prosensa Therapeutics BV (a subsidiary of Prosensa Holding NV).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Area Under Curve
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Dystrophin / genetics
  • Exons
  • Female
  • Gene Deletion
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / drug therapy*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / genetics
  • Oligonucleotides / adverse effects
  • Oligonucleotides / therapeutic use*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Dystrophin
  • Oligonucleotides
  • PRO051

Associated data