Phase 1 Trial of an RNA Interference Therapy for Acute Intermittent Porphyria

N Engl J Med. 2019 Feb 7;380(6):549-558. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1807838.


Background: Induction of delta aminolevulinic acid synthase 1 ( ALAS1) gene expression and accumulation of neurotoxic intermediates result in neurovisceral attacks and disease manifestations in patients with acute intermittent porphyria, a rare inherited disease of heme biosynthesis. Givosiran is an investigational RNA interference therapeutic agent that inhibits hepatic ALAS1 synthesis.

Methods: We conducted a phase 1 trial of givosiran in patients with acute intermittent porphyria. In part A of the trial, patients without recent porphyria attacks (i.e., no attacks in the 6 months before baseline) were randomly assigned to receive a single subcutaneous injection of one of five ascending doses of givosiran (0.035, 0.10, 0.35, 1.0, or 2.5 mg per kilogram of body weight) or placebo. In part B, patients without recent attacks were randomly assigned to receive once-monthly injections of one of two doses of givosiran (0.35 or 1.0 mg per kilogram) or placebo (total of two injections 28 days apart). In part C, patients who had recurrent attacks were randomly assigned to receive injections of one of two doses of givosiran (2.5 or 5.0 mg per kilogram) or placebo once monthly (total of four injections) or once quarterly (total of two injections) during a 12-week period, starting on day 0. Safety, pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and exploratory efficacy outcomes were evaluated.

Results: A total of 23 patients in parts A and B and 17 patients in part C underwent randomization. Common adverse events included nasopharyngitis, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Serious adverse events occurred in 6 patients who received givosiran in parts A through C combined. In part C, all 6 patients who were assigned to receive once-monthly injections of givosiran had sustained reductions in ALAS1 messenger RNA (mRNA), delta aminolevulinic acid, and porphobilinogen levels to near normal. These reductions were associated with a 79% lower mean annualized attack rate than that observed with placebo (exploratory efficacy end point).

Conclusions: Once-monthly injections of givosiran in patients who had recurrent porphyria attacks resulted in mainly low-grade adverse events, reductions in induced ALAS1 mRNA levels, nearly normalized levels of the neurotoxic intermediates delta aminolevulinic acid and porphobilinogen, and a lower attack rate than that observed with placebo. (Funded by Alnylam Pharmaceuticals; number, NCT02452372 .).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 5-Aminolevulinate Synthetase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • 5-Aminolevulinate Synthetase / genetics
  • 5-Aminolevulinate Synthetase / metabolism
  • Acetylgalactosamine / analogs & derivatives
  • Adult
  • Amides / administration & dosage*
  • Amides / adverse effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Porphobilinogen / blood
  • Porphyria, Acute Intermittent / drug therapy*
  • Pyrrolidines
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / urine
  • RNAi Therapeutics*


  • Amides
  • Pyrrolidines
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Porphobilinogen
  • 5-Aminolevulinate Synthetase
  • ALAS1 protein, human
  • Acetylgalactosamine
  • givosiran

Associated data