Key People For Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

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Adriano Chio’
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A Phase 1 study of GDC‐0134, a dual leucine zipper kinase inhibitor, in ALS


OBJECTIVE: Dual leucine zipper kinase (DLK), which regulates the c-Jun N-terminal kinase pathway involved in axon degeneration and apoptosis following neuronal injury, is a potential therapeutic target in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This first-in-human study investigated safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics (PK) of oral GDC-0134, a small-molecule DLK inhibitor. Plasma neurofilament light chain (NFL) levels were explored in GDC-0134-treated ALS patients and DLK conditional knockout (cKO) mice.

METHODS: The study included placebo-controlled, single and multiple ascending-dose (SAD; MAD) stages, and an open-label safety expansion (OLE) with adaptive dosing for up to 48 weeks.

RESULTS: Forty-nine patients were enrolled. GDC-0134 (up to 1200 mg daily) was well tolerated in the SAD and MAD stages, with no serious adverse events (SAEs). In the OLE, three study drug-related SAEs occurred: thrombocytopenia, dysesthesia (both Grade 3), and optic ischemic neuropathy (Grade 4); Grade ≤2 sensory neurological AEs led to dose reductions/discontinuations. GDC-0134 exposure was dose-proportional (median half-life = 84 h). Patients showed GDC-0134 exposure-dependent plasma NFL elevations; DLK cKO mice also exhibited plasma NFL compared to wild-type littermates.

INTERPRETATION: This trial characterized GDC-0134 safety and PK, but no adequately tolerated dose was identified. NFL elevations in GDC-0134-treated patients and DLK cKO mice raised questions about interpretation of biomarkers affected by both disease and on-target drug effects. The safety profile of GDC-0134 was considered unacceptable and led to discontinuation of further drug development for ALS. Further work is necessary to understand relationships between neuroprotective and potentially therapeutic effects of DLK knockout/inhibition and NFL changes in patients with ALS.

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