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 alladverse 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.
In total, 769 patients received vedolizumab (n = 383) or adalimumab (n = 386). Geboes Index and Robarts Histopathology Index (RHI) scores were used to assess prespecified histologic exploratory end points of histologic remission (Geboes <2 or RHI ≤2) and minimal histologic disease activity (Geboes ≤3.1 or RHI ≤4) at weeks 14 and 52.
Vedolizumab induced greater histologic remission than adalimumab:
week 14: Geboes: 16.7% vs 7.3%, RHI: 25.6% vs 16.1%
week 52: Geboes: 29.2% vs 8.3%, RHI: 37.6% vs 19.9%
Histologic outcomes were generally better in anti–TNF-naïve vs -failure patients
My take: This study shows that histologic outcomes with vedolizumab, similar to clinical outcomes, were better than with adalimumab. Some of this difference could be due to the trail design which did not allow optimization of adalimumab dosing.
The panel agreed that reactive TDM should be used for all biologics for both primary nonresponse and secondary loss of response
It was recommended that treatment discontinuation should not be considered for infliximab or adalimumab until a drug concentration of at least 10–15 mg/mL was achieved
Consensus was also achieved regarding the utility of proactive TDM for anti–tumor necrosis factor therapy. It was recommended to perform proactive TDM after induction and at least once during maintenance.
More data are needed with regard to proactive TDM for biologics other than anti-TNF agents
There are no differences in interpreting TDM between originator biologics and biosimilars
When considering switching within drug class in case of secondary loss of response to a first anti-TNF drug because of the development of antidrug antibodies, an immunomodulator should be added to a subsequent anti-TNF therapy
Low-titer antidrug antibodies can be overcome by treatment optimization (dose escalation, dose interval shortening, and/or addition of an immunomodulator)
My take: This article should help support the practice of proactive TDM and discourage stopping anti-TNF agents until an adequate therapeutic level is achieved.
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A recent study (MT Dolinger et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2021; 27: 1210-1214) and the associated editorial (D Geem, S Kugathasan. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2021; 27: 1361-1362) describe the use of multiple therapies (biologics and small molecule therapy) to target refractory pediatric inflammatory bowel disease. Since the term “combination therapy” is already in broad use for those receiving a biologic agent and an immunomodulator, I plan to refer to these new combinations as ‘dual immunotherapy’ for IBD.
Dolinger et al (Dual Biologic and Small Molecule Therapy for the Treatment of Refractory Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease) described 16 children with dual immunotherapy. Nine (56%) were treated with vedolizumab/tofacitinib, 4 (25%) with ustekinumab/vedolizumab, and 3 (19%) with ustekinumab/tofacitinib. Twelve (75%; 7 ulcerative colitis/IBD-unspecified, 5 Crohn’s disease ) achieved steroid-free remission at 6 months. One patient on 30 mg of vedolizumab/tofacitinib and prednisone daily developed septic arthritis and a deep vein thrombosis.
Except for “anti-TNF medications (infliximab and adalimumab), no other biologic therapies are FDA-approved for children with IBD”
“Clinical disease remission is achieved in only 40-60% of patients on anti-TNF medications”
With ustekinumab, “limited pediatric data reveal that in patients who have failed at least 1 biologic therapy, 38.6-58% achieve clinical remission by week 52…[And] vedolizumab …demonstrated steroid-free remission in 20% by week 22 in a single-center prospective observational cohort study.”
The response to dual immunotherapy is most likely due to the synergistic effects of two medications rather than the start of a new medication. The authors note a prior study which showed a positive experience of adding ustekinumab in 5 children who developed severe paradoxical psoriasis with infliximab and in another subset of pediatric patients, there was improvement with combination vedolizumab/infliximab (Paediatr Drugs 2020; 22: 409-416)
My take (borrowed from editorial): “Given the phenotypic heterogeneity of pediatric IBD and the multiple inflammatory immune pathways implicated in its pathogenesis, the approach of biologic monotherapy–may not be suitable for all patients…patients may require specific combinations…to quell multiple arms of their dysregulated immune response.” More trials are needed to determine the safety of these regimens (especially with regard to malignancy and infections).
This study described a ‘real-world’ experience with tofacitinib for Ulcerative Colitis in 260 adults; five patients developed HZ infection and 2 developed VTE (all receiving 10 mg tofacitinib, twice per day).
Methods: Patients with CD after ileocolonic resection with ileocolonic anastomosis were assigned randomly to groups given weekly 25,000 IU oral vitamin D (n = 72) or placebo (n = 71) for 26 weeks, at 17 hospitals in The Netherlands and Belgium, from February 2014 through June 2017
Key finding: The cumulative rate of clinical recurrence did not differ significantly between the groups (18.1% in the vitamin D group vs 18.3% in the placebo group; P = .91). Though, the Vit D group achieved higher levels at week 26 (81 vs 43 of 25-OH Vit D)
In an observational prospective longitudinal study of with newly diagnosed Crohn’s disease in 156 adults followed for nearly 1.5 years, Yanai et al found that 52 patients (33.3%) had an indolent course of CD, 29 (18.5%) required hospitalizations, and 75 (48%) were recommended to start steroid, immunomodulator, or biologic therapies. An “indolent course” indicated a lack of needing steroids, immunomodulators, anti-TNF agents, hospitalization or surgery. Key findings:
There were 4 factors associated with complicated course in treatment-naïve patients: body mass index <25 kg/m2 (hazard ratio [HR], 2.45; 95% CI, 1.07–5.43; P = .033), serum level of vitamin B12 <350 pg/mL (HR, 2.78; 95% CI, 1.21–6.41; P = .016), white blood cells ≥7 × 103/μL (HR, 2.419; 95% CI, 1.026–5.703; P = .044), and serum level of ALT ≥25 IU/L (HR, 2.680; 95% CI, 1.186–6.058; P = .018).
This model discriminated between patients with vs without a complicated course of disease with 90% and 89% accuracy at 6 and 12 months after diagnosis, respectively. A validation cohort demonstrated a discriminatory ability of 79% at 3 months after diagnosis, and a nomogram was constructed (see below)
My take: In this study, low BMI, low Vit B12, high wbc, and high ALT were associated with a more complicated course. These particularly risk factors do not seem intuitive to me. These findings need to be looked at in the pediatric age group, which likely has a lower rate of an indolent course.
In this retrospective study of 270 consecutive adult patients with acute severe ulcerative colitis (ASUC) (2002-2017), the cumulative risk of colectomy was 12.3% (95% CI, 8.6–16.8). Key findings:
Based on multivariate analysis, previous treatment with TNF antagonists or thiopurines (hazard ratio [HR], 3.86), Clostridioides difficile infection (HR, 3.73), serum level of C-reactive proteinabove 3.0 mg/dL (HR, 3.06), and serum level of albumin below 3.0 g/dL (HR, 2.67) were associated with increased risk of colectomy
The cumulative risks of colectomy within 1 y in patients with scores of 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 were 0.0%, 9.4% (95% CI, 4.3%–16.7%), 10.6% (95% CI, 5.6%–17.4%), 51.2% (95% CI, 26.6%–71.3%), and 100%. Negative predictive values ranged from 87% (95% CI, 82%–91%) to 92% (95% CI, 88%–95.0%). Findings from the validation cohort were consistent with findings from the derivation cohort.
My take: These findings confirm other studies in patients with ulcerative colitis which have shown that each of these criteria were predictors of severe disease.
“Regarding major congenital malformations, we believe that the results should be interpreted with caution. The numbers of these outcomes are relatively low and the statistical precision of the risk estimates should be taken into consideration.”
My take: Overall, this study is reassuring. Though it is difficult to prove these medications do not have impacts on newborns, if these effects were frequent, it would likely be evident in this type of study.
Using a selected sample from a database with >62 million patients, this retrospective cohort study determined the rates of colorectal cancer among patients with IBD. Key finding:
Among the IBD cohort, patients treated with anti-TNF agents were less likely to develop CRC; patients with Crohn’s disease: odds ratio, 0.69; 95% confidence interval, 0.66-0.73; P < 0.0001 vs patients with ulcerative colitis: odds ratio, 0.78; 95% confidence interval, 0.73-0.83; P < 0.0001.
My take: This study found an association between anti-TNF therapy and a reduced risk of CRC in patients with IBD.
This reported case series with 5 patients with severe ulcerative colitis (UC) who received a combination of tofacitinib and infliximab for at least 90 days were retrospectively reviewed. Tofacitinib dosing was de-escalated to 5 mg twice daily after 8 weeks. Thiopurine therapy was stopped with tofacitinib initiation.
Median duration of combination therapy was 9 months (range, 4–12 months). At 90 days, all patients had a reduction in Mayo score of ≥3. Four patients improved clinically and biochemically (Table 1), with 3 patients achieving steroid-free remission.
The only adverse event reported was one patient developing varicella zoster.
The authors letter title regarding tofacitinib being “safe and effective” is clearly overstated. The reply notes that in limited experience the group from the University of Michigan had a 50-year-old man develop severe pulmonary and CNS disease due to acquisition of legionnaires disease while on combination tofacitinib and infliximab.
My take: (borrowed from reply) “Efficacy and safety data obtained through rigorous randomized trials are needed…it is possible that long-term use of combination tofacitinib and infliximab will lead to an unacceptable risk of infection.”
Another study of tofacitinib: GR Lichtenstein et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2021; 27: 816-825. Tofacitinib, an Oral Janus Kinase Inhibitor: Analysis of Malignancy (Excluding Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer) Events Across the Ulcerative Colitis Clinical Program Key finding: With an exposure of 2576.4 patient years & 124 overall cohort tofacitinib-treated patients, 20 developed a malignancy