MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Christophe Corpechot
Centre de Référence Maladie Rares: Maladies Inflammatoires des Voies Biliaires et Hépatites Auto-immunes (MIVB-H)
Filière Maladies Rares: Maladies Rares du Foie de l’Adulte et de l’Enfant
Hôpital Saint-Antoine (APHP) et Sorbonne Universités
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC, previously known as “primary biliary cirrhosis”) is a rare, chronic, slowly progressive liver disease of unknown cause, mainly affecting women of middle age. It is characterized by serum marks of autoimmunity (specific auto-antibodies), chronic inflammation and destruction of small intra-hepatic bile ducts, and consequent bile secretion impairment (chronic cholestasis) leading to the progressive development of cirrhosis and liver failure. Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is the only first-line approved treatment for PBC. It improves the biochemical measures of cholestasis and prolongs survival without liver transplantation. However, 30% to 40% of UDCA-treated patients continue to have clinically significant abnormalities of their biochemical liver tests and those patients remain at high risk of developing end-stage liver disease complications.
Recently (2016), obeticholic acid (OCA) in association with UDCA has been conditionally approved in patients with an inadequate response to UDCA. This approval (FDA, EMA) was based one the results of a 1-year randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of OCA in patients with an incomplete response or intolerance to UDCA (POISE trial). In this trial, OCA was shown to improve the biochemical features of cholestasis (alkaline phosphatase (ALP) level < 1.67 times the upper limit of the normal range and a reduction of at least 15% from baseline) but was associated with a significant increase of pruritus, a characteristic, potentially debilitating symptom of PBC. BEZURSO is the first ever placebo-controlled phase 3 trial of a fibrate (a class of drugs known to be agonists of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors alpha) in PBC. In this 2-year randomized double-blind trial, 100 patients with an incomplete response to UDCA were assigned to bezafibrate 400 mg/day (n=50) or placebo (n=50), all in association with continued UDCA therapy.