Safety and efficacy of valbenazine for the treatment of chorea associated with Huntington's disease (KINECT-HD): a phase 3, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Lancet Neurol. 2023 Jun;22(6):494-504. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(23)00127-8.


Background: Valbenazine is a highly selective vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2) inhibitor approved for treatment of tardive dyskinesia. To address the ongoing need for improved symptomatic treatments for individuals with Huntington's disease, valbenazine was evaluated for the treatment of chorea associated with Huntington's disease.

Methods: KINECT-HD (NCT04102579) was a phase 3, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, performed in 46 Huntington Study Group sites in the USA and Canada. The study included adults with genetically confirmed Huntington's disease and chorea (Unified Huntington's Disease Rating Scale [UHDRS] Total Maximal Chorea [TMC] score of 8 or higher) who were randomly assigned (1:1) via an interactive web response system (with no stratification or minimisation) to oral placebo or valbenazine (≤80 mg, as tolerated) for 12 weeks of double-blinded treatment. The primary endpoint was a least-squares mean change in UHDRS TMC score from the screening and baseline period (based on the average of screening and baseline values for each participant) to the maintenance period (based on the average of week 10 and 12 values for each participant) in the full-analysis set using a mixed-effects model for repeated measures. Safety assessments included treatment-emergent adverse events, vital signs, electrocardiograms, laboratory tests, clinical tests for parkinsonism, and psychiatric assessments. The double-blind placebo-controlled period of KINECT-HD has been completed, and an open-label extension period is ongoing.

Findings: KINECT-HD was performed from Nov 13, 2019, to Oct 26, 2021. Of 128 randomly assigned participants, 125 were included in the full-analysis set (64 assigned to valbenazine, 61 assigned to placebo) and 127 were included in the safety-analysis set (64 assigned to valbenazine, 63 assigned to placebo). The full-analysis set included 68 women and 57 men. Least-squares mean changes from the screening and baseline period to the maintenance period in the UHDRS TMC score were -4·6 for valbenazine and -1·4 for placebo (least-squares mean difference -3·2, 95% CI -4·4 to -2·0; p<0·0001). The most commonly reported treatment-emergent adverse event was somnolence (ten [16%] with valbenazine, two [3%] with placebo). Serious treatment-emergent adverse events were reported in two participants in the placebo group (colon cancer and psychosis) and one participant in the valbenazine group (angioedema because of allergic reaction to shellfish). No clinically important ch anges in vital signs, electrocardiograms, or laboratory tests were found. No suicidal behaviour or worsening of suicidal ideation was reported in participants treated with valbenazine.

Interpretation: In individuals with Huntington's disease, valbenazine resulted in improvement in chorea compared with placebo and was well tolerated. Continued research is needed to confirm the long-term safety and effectiveness of this medication throughout the disease course in individuals with Huntington's disease-related chorea.

Funding: Neurocrine Biosciences.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Chorea* / chemically induced
  • Chorea* / drug therapy
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease* / complications
  • Huntington Disease* / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Tetrabenazine / adverse effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • valbenazine
  • Tetrabenazine
  • Antipsychotic Agents

Associated data