WJ Sandborn et al. NEJM 2021; 385: 1280-1291. Ozanimod as Induction and Maintenance Therapy for Ulcerative Colitis
This study led to FDA approval of ozanimod (Zeposia) in May 2021 for ulcerative colitis.
Mechanism of Action: Ozanimod is a selective sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor modulator which leads to internalization of S1P1 receptors in lymphocytes and the prevention of lymphocyte mobilization to inflammatory sites.
Design: There were two initial cohorts of adults with moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis. The first cohort (n=645) of this 52-week multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (285 sites, 30 countries) of ozanimod as induction and maintenance therapy received either 1 mg of ozanimod hydrochloride once a day or placebo. A second cohort (n=457) received open-label ozanimod and was designed to assure that there would be adequate numbers of patients for the maintenance phase. The design allowed up to 30% of the first cohort to have received prior anti-TNF therapy and up to 50% of the second cohort to have received prior anti-TNF therapy. Ozanimod-treated patients with a clinical response during the 10-week induction were randomized again to a treatment group (n=230) or a placebo group for maintenance (n=227). Placebo-treated patients with a clinical response continued to receive placebo.
Approximately 97% of both cohorts had received prior aminosalicylate treatment and ~20% had received prior vedolizumab therapy.
As a safety measure (due to concerns of bradycardia), there was a 7-day period at the start of treatment with dose escalation, starting at 0.25 mg on days 1-4, 0.5 mg on days 5-7, then to 1 mg thereafter.
- The incidence of clinical remission was significantly higher among patients who received ozanimod than among those who received placebo during both induction (18.4% vs. 6.0%, P<0.001) and maintenance (37.0% vs. 18.5% [among patients with a response at week 10], P<0.001).
- The incidence of clinical response was also significantly higher with ozanimod than with placebo during induction (47.8% vs. 25.9%, P<0.001) and maintenance (60.0% vs. 41.0%, P<0.001).
- Histologic remission during induction, ozanimod vs placebo: 15.% vs 5.8%.
- A post hoc analysis showed decreases in the rectal-bleeding and stool-frequency subscores by week 2 (1 week after the completion of dose adjustment).
- Serious adverse events attributed to ozanimod or placebo occurred in 4 (0.5%) and 2 (0.9%) during induction respectively and none and 1 (0.4%) respectively during maintenance.
- Overall all adverse events during induction occurred in 40% of ozanimod-treated patients and 38% of placebo recipients; during maintenance, adverse events were 49% and 37% respectively.
- Absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) decreased by a mean of ~54% from baseline to week 10 in ozanimod-treated patients; ALC was <200 in 1.1% (both cohorts) in induction and 17 patients during maintenance. None of the patients with ALC <200 experienced a serious or opportunistic infection.
- Serious infections associated wtih ozanimod or placebo occurred in 10 (1.3%) and 1 (0.5%) during induction respectively and 2 (0.9%) and 4 (1.8%%) respectively during maintenance.
- Common infections like nasopharyngitis and upper respiratory tract infections in 3-4% of ozanimod-treated patients compared to ~2% of placebo-treated patients
- Cancer: during induction there was one ozanimod-treated patient who had a basal cell carcinoma and during maintenance there was one ozanimod-treated patient who had a basal cell carcinoma. In the placebo group, during maintenance there was one patient who developed adenocarcinoma of the colon and one who developed breast cancer.
- Among ozanimod-treated patients, bradycardia was evident in 5 (~0.6%) during induction and none during maintenance. (Patients with significant cardiovascular history were excluded from trial)
- Among ozanimod-treated patients, hypertension occurred in 13 (~1.6%) during induction and 4 (1.7%); in the placebo group, none in the induction period and three (1.3%) in the maintenance had hypertension.
- Prior to entry, the trial required documented varicella zoster IgG antibody or completion of vaccination. Still, HSV occurred in 3 during induction (~0.5%) and 5 (2.2%) during maintenance (only 1 placebo patient (0.4%) had an HSV infection during maintenance.
- Elevated liver tests associated wtih ozanimod or placebo occurred in 42 (5.3%) and 2 (0.9%) during induction respectively and 32 (13.9%) and 1 (5.3%%) respectively during maintenance.
- Macular edema was noted in 2 ozanimod-treated patients during induction and 1 during maintenance.
My take: This study shows that ozanimod was more effective than placebo in adults with moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis. It will probably be years before we have adequate pediatric data.