Secukinumab is the latest adult plaque psoriasis treatment to be bested by a newcomer, the interleukin 17A and 17F blocker bimekizumab.
Rates of complete clearance were substantially higher with bimekizumab in a phase 3 trial with 743 patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis, but oral candidiasis (oral thrush) again emerged as a particular issue with the agent.
Clinical improvements seen with bimekizumab have exceeded those with two standard options for adult plaque psoriasis — the tumor necrosis factor blocker adalimumab and the interleukin (IL) 12/23 inhibitor ustekinumab — in phase 3 trials from manufacturer UCB Pharma, and it’s under review for the indication by the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency.
The biologic is also being evaluated in phase 3 trials for treating psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, nonradiographic axial spondyloarthritis, and hidradenitis suppurativa.
Results of the trial comparing bimekizumab to secukinumab, dubbed BE RADIANT, were presented at the American Academy of Dermatology Virtual Meeting Experience and published online concurrently April 23 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The results “suggest that inhibition of both interleukin-17A and interleukin-17F with bimekizumab may provide greater clinical benefit for patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis than inhibition of interleukin-17A alone,” as with secukinumab, said the investigators, led by Kristian Reich, MD, professor of dermatology at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Hamburg, Germany.
The trial randomly assigned 373 adults to bimekizumab 320 mg every 4 weeks to week 16, then rerandomized them to maintenance dosing either every 4 weeks or every 8 weeks to week 48; another 370 adults were randomly assigned to secukinumab 300 mg weekly for the first 4 weeks, then every 4 weeks to week 48. Baseline Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) scores were about 20 points in both treatment groups.
At the 1-month point, 71% in the bimekizumab group, vs 47.3% on secukinumab, had a 75% or greater reduction from their baseline PASI score. At 4 months, 61.7% of those on bimekizumab but 48.9% in the secukinumab group had complete clearance with a PASI score of 100.
At 48 weeks, 67% of those on bimekizumab had a PASI 100 response — which was numerically similar between the two bimekizumab dosing regimens after week 16 — vs 46.2% of the secukinumab group (P for all < .001).
The incidence of serious adverse events was just under 6% in both groups, with adverse events leading to discontinuation in 3.5% of bimekizumab and 2.7% of secukinumab subjects. The rate of serious infections was similar in both groups.
However, as in past trials, oral candidiasis was an issue, occurring in 19.3% of bimekizumab subjects vs 3% on secukinumab. Half of the 72 bimekizumab cases were classified as mild, and all but two of the rest as moderate. Over 40% of affected subjects reported more than one case, but none led to treatment discontinuation.
More than 85% of oral candidiasis cases in the study were treated with antifungal therapy and resolved during the trial.
Inflammatory bowel disease is a concern with IL-17 blockade, but this hasn’t emerged as a particular issue with bimekizumab. There was one case each of ulcerative colitis in both the bimekizumab and secukinumab groups, and just one case of ulcerative colitis in three previous phase 3 bimekizumab trials, according to the investigators.
Among the trial limitations: Patients who had been on bimekizumab or secukinumab previously were excluded, as were patients who had no response to an IL-17 biologic or more than one biologic agent of any other class within the previous 12 weeks. The limitations could reduce generalizability, the investigators said.
Patients in the trial were about 45 years old, on average, and about two thirds were men; over 90% were White.
The study was funded by UCB Pharma. The investigators had numerous disclosures, including Reich who reported grants and personal fees from companies including UCB Pharma. The full list of disclosures can be found with the New England Journal of Medicine article.
American Academy of Dermatology Virtual Meeting Experience: Presented April 23, 2021.
N Engl J Med. Published online April 23, 2021. Abstract
M. Alexander Otto is a physician assistant with a master’s degree in medical science and a Newhouse journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is an award-winning medical journalist who worked for McClatchy and Bloomberg before joining Medscape, and also an MIT Knight Science Journalism fellow. Email: [email protected]
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