Study methodology and insights from the palovarotene clinical development program in fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva.

BMC medical research methodology

BACKGROUND: The design of clinical trials in rare diseases is often complicated by a lack of real-world translational knowledge. Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is an ultra-rare genetic disorder characterized by skeletal malformations and progressive heterotopic ossification (HO). Palovarotene is a selective retinoic acid receptor gamma agonist. Here, we describe the methodology of three studies in the palovarotene clinical development program in FOP and discuss insights that could inform future research, including endpoint suitability and the impact of trial design.METHODS: PVO-1A-001 (NCT02322255) was a prospective, protocol-specified, longitudinal FOP natural history study (NHS). PVO-1A-201 (NCT02190747) was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase II trial; PVO-1A-202 (NCT02279095) was its open-label extension. Trial designs, including treatment regimens and imaging assessments, were refined between PVO-1A-201 and PVO-‍1A-202, and within PVO-1A-202, based on emerging data as the studies progressed. Palovarotene doses were administered using a flare-up treatment regimen (higher dose for 2/4 weeks, followed by lower dose for 4/≥8 weeks; from flare-up onset), with or without accompanying chronic (daily) treatment. Flare-up and disease progression outcomes were assessed, including incidence and volume of new HO during flare-ups and/or annually, as well as other clinical, patient-reported, and exploratory outcomes. Safety was monitored throughout all studies.RESULTS: Overall, 114 and 58 individuals with FOP were enrolled in the NHS and phase II trials, respectively. Results of the NHS and PVO-1A-201 were published in 2022; complete results of PVO-1A-202 will be publicly available in due course. Together the studies yielded important information on endpoint suitability, including that low-dose whole-body computed tomography was the optimum imaging modality for assessing HO progression annually and that long study durations are needed to detect substantial changes in functional and patient-reported outcomes.CONCLUSIONS: A flexible clinical development program is necessary for underexplored rare diseases to overcome the many challenges faced. Here, the NHS provided a longitudinal evaluation of FOP progression and interventional trials were based on emerging data. The studies described informed the design and endpoints implemented in the phase III MOVE trial (NCT03312634) and provide a foundation for future clinical trial development.TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT02322255 (registered 23/12/2014); NCT02190747 (registered 15/07/2014); NCT02279095 (registered 30/10/2014).

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BMC medical research methodology
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