Background: Myelofibrosis is a chronic myeloproliferative neoplasm characterised by splenomegaly, cytopenias, bone marrow fibrosis, and debilitating symptoms including fatigue, weight loss, and bone pain. Mutations in Janus kinase-2 (JAK2) occur in approximately 50% of patients. The only approved JAK2 inhibitor for myelofibrosis is the dual JAK1 and JAK2 inhibitor, ruxolitinib. 58-71% of patients treated with ruxolitinib in clinical trials so far have not achieved the primary endpoint of 35% or more reduction in spleen volume from baseline assessed by MRI or CT. Furthermore, more than 50% of patients discontinue ruxolitinib treatment after 3-5 years. On the basis of this unmet need, we investigated the efficacy and safety of fedratinib, a JAK2-selective inhibitor, in patients with ruxolitinib-resistant or ruxolitinib-intolerant myelofibrosis.
Methods: This single-arm, open-label, non-randomised, phase 2, multicentre study, done at 31 sites in nine countries, enrolled adult patients with a current diagnosis of intermediate or high-risk primary myelofibrosis, post-polycythaemia vera myelofibrosis, or post-essential thrombocythaemia myelofibrosis, found to be ruxolitinib resistant or intolerant after at least 14 days of treatment. Other main inclusion criteria were palpable splenomegaly (≥5 cm below the left costal margin), Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 2 or less, and life expectancy of 6 months or less. Patients received oral fedratinib at a starting dose of 400 mg once per day, for six consecutive 28-day cycles. The primary endpoint was spleen response (defined as the proportion of patients with a ≥35% reduction in spleen volume as determined by blinded CT and MRI at a central imaging laboratory). We did the primary analysis in the per-protocol population only (patients treated with fedratinib, for whom a baseline and at least one post-baseline spleen volume measurement was available) and the safety analysis in all patients receiving at least one dose of fedratinib. This trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01523171.
Findings: Between May 8, 2012, and Aug 29, 2013, 97 patients were enrolled and received at least one dose of fedratinib. Of 83 assessable patients, 46 (55%, 95% CI 44-66) achieved a spleen response. Common grade 3-4 adverse events included anaemia (37 [38%] of 97 patients) and thrombocytopenia (21 [22%] of 97), with 18 (19%) patients discontinuing due to adverse events. Seven (7%) patients died during the study, but none of the deaths was drug related. Suspected cases of Wernicke's encephalopathy in other fedratinib trials led to study termination.
Interpretation: This phase 2 study met its primary endpoint, suggesting that patients with ruxolitinib-resistant or ruxolitinib-intolerant myelofibrosis might achieve significant clinical benefit with fedratinib, albeit at the cost of some potential toxicity, which requires further evaluation. Fedratinib development in this setting is currently being assessed.
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