Masitinib as an add-on therapy to riluzole in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a randomized clinical trial

Amyotroph Lateral Scler Frontotemporal Degener. 2020 Feb;21(1-2):5-14. doi: 10.1080/21678421.2019.1632346. Epub 2019 Jul 7.


Objective: To assess masitinib in the treatment of ALS. Methods: Double-blind study, randomly assigning 394 patients (1:1:1) to receive riluzole (100 mg/d) plus placebo or masitinib at 4.5 or 3.0 mg/kg/d. Following a blinded transition from phase 2 to phase 2/3, a prospectively defined two-tiered design was implemented based on ALSFRS-R progression rate from disease-onset to baseline (ΔFS). This approach selects a more homogeneous primary efficacy population ("Normal Progressors", ΔFS < 1.1 points/month) while concurrently permitting secondary assessment of the broader population. Primary endpoint was decline in ALSFRS-R at week-48 (ΔALSFRS-R), with the high-dose "Normal Progressor" cohort being the prospectively declared primary efficacy population. Missing data were imputed via last observation carried forward (LOCF) methodology with sensitivity analyses performed to test robustness. Results: For the primary efficacy population, masitinib (n = 99) showed significant benefit over placebo (n = 102) with a ΔALSFRS-R between-group difference (ΔLSM) of 3.4 (95% CI 0.65-6.13; p = 0.016), corresponding to a 27% slowing in rate of functional decline (LOCF methodology). Sensitivity analyses were all convergent, including the conservative multiple imputation technique of FCS-REGPMM with a ΔLSM of 3.4 (95% CI 0.53-6.33; p = 0.020). Secondary endpoints (ALSAQ-40, FVC, and time-to-event analysis) were also significant. Conversely, no significant treatment-effect according to ΔALSFRS-R was seen for the broader "Normal and Fast Progressor" masitinib 4.5 mg/kg/d cohort, or either of the low-dose (masitinib 3.0 mg/kg/d) cohorts. Rates of treatment-emergent adverse events (AEs) (regardless of causality or post-onset ΔFS) were 88% with masitinib 4.5 mg/kg/d, 85% with 3.0 mg/kg/d, and 79% with placebo. Likewise, rates of serious AE were 31, 23, and 18%, respectively. No distinct event contributed to the higher rate observed for masitinib and no deaths were related to masitinib. Conclusions: Results show that masitinib at 4.5 mg/kg/d can benefit patients with ALS. A confirmatory phase 3 study will be initiated to substantiate these data.

Keywords: Clinical trials; masitinib; therapy; tyrosine kinase inhibitor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Benzamides
  • Disease Progression
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Piperidines
  • Pyridines
  • Riluzole / therapeutic use*
  • Thiazoles / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Benzamides
  • Piperidines
  • Pyridines
  • Thiazoles
  • Riluzole
  • masitinib