Objective: To evaluate fenebrutinib, an oral and highly selective non-covalent inhibitor of Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK), in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: Patients with RA and inadequate response to methotrexate (cohort 1, n=480) were randomized to fenebrutinib (50 mg once daily, 150 mg once daily, 200 mg twice daily), 40 mg adalimumab every other week, or placebo. Patients with RA and inadequate response to tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (cohort 2, n=98) received fenebrutinib (200 mg twice daily) or placebo. Both cohorts continued methotrexate therapy.
Results: In cohort 1, American College of Rheumatology scores (ACR50) at week 12 were similar for fenebrutinib 50 mg once daily and placebo, and higher for fenebrutinib 150 mg once daily (28%) and 200 mg twice daily (35%) than placebo (15%) (p=0.017; p=0.0003). Fenebrutinib 200 mg twice daily and adalimumab (36%) were comparable (p=0.81). In cohort 2, more patients achieved ACR50 with fenebrutinib 200 mg twice daily (25%) than placebo (12%) (p=0.072). The most common adverse events for fenebrutinib included nausea, headache, anemia, and upper respiratory tract infections. Fenebrutinib had significant effects on myeloid and B cell biomarkers (CCL4 and rheumatoid factor). Fenebrutinib and adalimumab caused overlapping as well as distinct changes in B cell and myeloid biomarkers.
Conclusion: Fenebrutinib demonstrated efficacy comparable to adalimumab in patients with an inadequate response to methotrexate, and safety consistent with existing immunomodulatory therapies for RA. These data support targeting both B and myeloid cells via this novel mechanism for potential efficacy in the treatment of RA.
Keywords: Bruton’s kinase inhibitor; clinical trial; fenebrutinib; rheumatoid arthritis.
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