A Phase 1b/2 Study Evaluating the Safety and Efficacy of Canakinumab With Darbepoetin Alfa in Patients With Lower-Risk Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) Who Have Failed Erythropoietin Stimulating Agents (ESA)

What's the purpose of this trial?

This study is a multi-institution, open-label, Phase 1b/2 clinical trial evaluating the toxicity and efficacy of canakinumab in combination with darbepoetin alfa in patients with lower-risk MDS who have failed prior treatment with an Erythropoietin Stimulating Agent (ESA)

This trial is currently open and accepting patients.

What will happen during the trial?

You may be able to join this trial if you:

The following criteria is a partial list of reasons why patients may be eligible to participate in this clinical trial. Further evaluation with a medical professional is required.

Inclusion Criteria:

* Adequate organ function as defined by laboratory values per protocol
* Documented diagnosis of MDS by World Health Organization (WHO) criteria, further meeting the following criteria according to disease risk classification
* Patients must be transfusion dependent, defined as requirement for transfusion of at least 3 units of Packed Red Blood cells (PRBCs) 16 weeks for a Hgb\<9.0g/dL or, in non-transfusion dependent patients (\<3 units of PRBCs transfused in the preceding 16 weeks), must have a baseline Hgb of \<9.0 g/dL at time of study enrollment
* Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) Performance Status \* Women of child bearing potential must have negative urine or serum pregnancy test within 28 days prior to start of study drug.
* Women of child bearing potential must agree to use adequate contraception (hormonal or barrier method of birth control; abstinence; tubal ligation, partner's vasectomy) prior to Cycle 1 Day 1 and for the duration of study participation.

Exclusion Criteria:

* Use of chemotherapeutic agents or experimental agents (agents that are not commercially available) for the treatment of MDS within 14 days of the first day of study drug treatment.
* Previous treatment with a hypomethylating agent (such as azacitidine, decitabine or investigational hypomethylating agent).
* Use of concurrent growth factors such as G-CSF, GM-CSF, or thrombopoietin mimetics during study except in cases of febrile neutropenia, where G-CSF can be used for short term. Growth factors must be stopped two weeks prior to study.
* Patient has any of the following cardiac abnormalities: (a) Uncontrolled, symptomatic congestive heart failure as designated by the treating physician (b) Myocardial infarction ≤ 6 months prior to enrollment (c) Unstable angina pectoris as designated by the treating physician (d) Serious uncontrolled cardiac arrhythmia as designated by the treating physician. (e) Uncontrolled hypertension as designated by the treating physician
* Known history of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (no laboratory testing is required), or active infection with Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C.
* Active tuberculosis (Tb) infection or documented, untreated latent Tb infection (all patients should undergo Tb risk evaluation prior to enrollment with Tb screening performed as per local guidelines,
* Active, uncontrolled infection at the time of enrollment, except in cases of localized infections that are unlikely to lead to a systemic infection such as onychomycoses or dental caries. Patients with new fever (\> 38.0 C) or respiratory symptoms are required to undergo laboratory screening for COVID-19
* Have undergone prior allo-HSCT for the treatment of MDS, or other hematologic disorder, or prior solid organ transplant.
* Any serious or uncontrolled medical disorder that, in the opinion of the investigator, may increase the risk associated with study participation or study drug administration, impair the ability of the subject to receive protocol therapy, or interfere with the interpretation of study results.
* Prior malignancy active within the previous 2 years except for locally curable cancers that have been apparently cured, such as basal or squamous cell skin cancer, superficial bladder cancer, or carcinoma in situ of the prostate, cervix, or breast.
* Patients with a condition requiring systemic treatment with corticosteroids within 14 days of study drug administration (i.e. prednisone at doses of \>10mg). Inhaled or topical steroids and adrenal/pituitary replacement doses \>10mg daily prednisone equivalents are permitted.
* Patients undergoing concurrent treatment with agents targeting tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF) or IL-1 within 28 days of study enrollment.
* Patients who have received a live-virus vaccine within 30 days before study drug administration (patients should not be treated with live-virus vaccine while undergoing therapy).
* History of allergy or hypersensitivity to either darbepoetin alfa or the study drug or its components.
* Women of child bearing potential who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
* Subjects who are compulsorily detained for treatment of either a psychiatric or physical (e.g., infectious disease) illness.)

Additional Trial Information

Phase 1/2

Enrollment: 41 patients (estimated)

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Published Results

Phase 1b/2 Study Evaluating the Safety and Efficacy of Canakinumab with Darbepoetin Alfa in Patients with Lower-Risk Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) Who Have Failed Erythropoietin Stimulating Agents (ESA)

December 11, 2023

Results: Nine patients enrolled with a median age of 71 (range: 61-85 years), 67% female with baseline IPSS-R, IPSS-M and mutation data shown in Table. By IPSS-M, 3, 3, 1, 2 patients were low, moderately-low, moderately high, and high-risk categories. All IPSS-M lower risk mutant patients had splicing mutations. The median number of mutations was 2 (range 0-5). 100% of patients were ESA refractory. Additionally, 33% and 56% were refractory to lenalidomide and luspatercept therapy, respectively. Eight (89%) patients were PRBC dependent at baseline (56% [n=5] with high transfusion burden).

The median follow-up duration was 6.1 months (range 3-17.8). The most common adverse events were neutropenia (n=7), followed by thrombocytopenia (n=4), and abnormal liver function tests (n=4). There were two grade 3 adverse events including thrombocytopenia and colitis, both unrelated to study treatment. There were no dose-limiting toxicities or serious adverse events in the phase 1 portion. All patients achieved the best response as stable disease, and no one had progression disease. No patients achieved objective response or significant reduction in transfusion burden. There was no statistical improvement in total QUALMS score from baseline to end of treatment (P=0.72) nor in the individual components (i.e. physical burden, benefit finding and emotional burden, P=0.69, P=0.91, P=0.630; respectively) although several patients had individual improvements.

The percentage of PBMCs with ASC specks at baseline ranged from 0.3945-2.978% (median 1.93%). ASC specks decreased significantly after cycle 1 of therapy and were durably suppressed over the course of treatment in a majority of patients (Figure). Extracellular IL-1β in bone marrow plasma robustly increased with treatment and remained elevated (representing non-functional IL-1β [canakinumab bound IL-1β]; P=0.002 cycle 6 versus baseline), supporting pharmacodynamic effect with no differences observed between DL1 and DL2.

Conclusions: The combination of canakinumab and darbepoetin was safe and well tolerated and 300mg of canakinumab is the RP2D. Canakinumab inhibited inflammasome activation as evidenced by a reduction of ASC specks although this did not translate to clinical responses. Phase 2 of the study will focus on patients with lower transfusion burden and molecular subsets with highest IL-1β expression (e.g. TET2/DNMT3A mutant).

Trial Locations

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Moffitt Cancer Center Magnolia Campus

Tampa, FL

Open and Accepting


Winship Cancer Institute Emory University

Atlanta, GA

Open and Accepting
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