Utility and variability of three non-invasive liver fibrosis imaging modalities to evaluate efficacy of GR-MD-02 in subjects with NASH and bridging fibrosis during a phase-2 randomized clinical trial.
Harrison SA., Dennis A., Fiore MM., Kelly MD., Kelly CJ., Paredes AH., Whitehead JM., Neubauer S., Traber PG., Banerjee R.
BACKGROUND: Given the worldwide prevalence of NAFLD and NASH, there is a need to develop treatments to slow or reverse disease progression. GR-MD-02 (galactoarabino-rhamnogalaturonate) has been shown to reduce hepatic fibrosis in animal studies, and lower serum biomarkers of NASH fibrogenesis in humans. The primary aim of this study was to determine the difference between four-months of treatment with GR-MD-02 or placebo in liver inflammation and fibrosis as measured by iron-corrected T1 (cT1) mapping, a non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) biomarker that correlates with the extent of hepatic fibro-inflammatory disease. The secondary aims were to determine change in liver stiffness as measured by magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) and shear-wave ultrasonic elastography (LSM), and to explore test-retest repeatability of the three biomarkers. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Thirty subjects (13 females, 46-71 years) with NASH and advanced fibrosis were recruited. Subjects were randomized to receive 8 mg.kg-1 GR-MD-02 (via IV infusion) or placebo, administered biweekly over a 16-week period. Therapeutic efficacy was examined using cT1, MRE, and LSM. Statistical analyses on group differences in the biomarkers were performed using robust ANCOVA models adjusting for baseline measurement and additional covariates. RESULTS: There was no significant difference in cT1 (p = 0.16) between GR-MD-02 and placebo groups following a 16-week intervention. There was also no significant difference in liver stiffness, measured by MRE (p = 0.80) or LSM (p = 0.63), between groups. Examination of repeatability of the cT1, MRE and LSM revealed coefficient of variations of 3.1%, 11% and 40% respectively. CONCLUSIONS: 8 mg.kg-1 of GR-MD-02 had no significant effect on non-invasive biomarkers of liver inflammation or fibrosis over a 4-month period. Histological confirmation was not available in this study. The high reproducibility of the primary outcome measure suggests that cT1 could be utilized for monitoring longitudinal change in patients with NASH.