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Selonsertib for patients with bridging fibrosis or compensated cirrhosis due to NASH: Results from randomized phase III STELLAR trials

Published:March 05, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2020.02.027

      Highlights

      • Selonsertib was safe and inhibited its target (ASK1) but did not lead to fibrosis regression or reduce disease progression in NASH.
      • Improvement in liver fibrosis on biopsy was associated with improvement only in other histologic features.
      • Improvements in ELF score and liver stiffness by transient elastography correlated with a variety of clinical parameters.

      Background & Aims

      Apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1) plays a key role in hepatocyte injury, inflammation, and fibrosis in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). We evaluated the safety and antifibrotic effect of selonsertib, a selective inhibitor of ASK1, in patients with advanced fibrosis due to NASH.

      Methods

      We conducted 2 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase III trials of selonsertib in patients with NASH and bridging fibrosis (F3, STELLAR-3) or compensated cirrhosis (F4, STELLAR-4). Patients were randomized 2:2:1 to receive selonsertib 18 mg, selonsertib 6 mg, or placebo once daily for 48 weeks. Liver biopsies were performed at screening and week 48 and non-invasive tests of fibrosis (NITs) were evaluated. The primary efficacy endpoint was the proportion of patients with ≥1-stage improvement in fibrosis without worsening of NASH at week 48. Additional endpoints included changes in NITs, progression to cirrhosis (in STELLAR-3), and liver-related clinical events.

      Results

      Neither trial met the primary efficacy endpoint. In STELLAR-3, fibrosis improvement without worsening of NASH was observed in 10% (31/322, p = 0.49 vs. placebo), 12% (39/321, p = 0.93 vs. placebo), and 13% (21/159) of patients in the selonsertib 18 mg, selonsertib 6 mg, and placebo groups, respectively. In STELLAR-4, the primary endpoint was achieved in 14% (51/354; p = 0.56), 13% (45/351; p = 0.93), and 13% (22/172) of patients, respectively. Although selonsertib led to dose-dependent reductions in hepatic phospho-p38 expression indicative of pharmacodynamic activity, it had no significant effect on liver biochemistry, NITs, progression to cirrhosis, or adjudicated clinical events. The rates and types of adverse events were similar among selonsertib and placebo groups.

      Conclusions

      Forty-eight weeks of selonsertib monotherapy had no antifibrotic effect in patients with bridging fibrosis or compensated cirrhosis due to NASH.

      Lay summary

      Patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) can develop scarring of the liver (fibrosis), including cirrhosis, which increases the risks of liver failure and liver cancer. We tested whether 48 weeks of treatment with selonsertib reduced fibrosis in patients with NASH and advanced liver scarring. We did not find that selonsertib reduced fibrosis in these patients.

      Trial registration details

      Graphical abstract

      Keywords

      Linked Article

      • STELLAR 3 and STELLAR 4: Lessons from the fall of Icarus
        Journal of HepatologyVol. 73Issue 1
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          When planes crash or experience a near miss, the United States Federal Aviation Authority has a longstanding policy that mandates a review that “will ensure that all of the facts, conditions, and circumstances leading to an event are recorded and evaluated, and that action is taken to prevent similar events to the extent practical and feasible.” Safety and efficacy of air travel is immeasurably better for it.
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