Dupilumab Promising for Children Up to 12 Years Old With EoE

VANCOUVER, Canada — New evidence from the phase 3 EoE KIDS trial supports the safety and efficacy of dupilumab (Dupixent) treatment for children aged 1-12 years with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE).

High exposure to dupilumab was associated with significantly improved histologic, endoscopic, and transcriptomic improvements compared to placebo at week 16. Sustained response or improvements continued to week 52 with continued treatment in the high-exposure dupilumab group. Children in the high-exposure dupilumab group also gained more weight during the study than those initially assigned to placebo.

“Eosinophilic esophagitis is a chronic, aggressive, type 2 inflammatory disease that has a substantial impact on quality of life,” said Mirna Chehade, MD, MPH, of the Mount Sinai Center for Eosinophilic Disorders, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. And the incidence and prevalence of the disease is increasing.

Dupilumab is already indicated for treating EoE in adolescents aged 12 or older as well as adults, but “there are no approved treatments for EoE in children under 12,” said Chehade, who presented the results of the late-breaking abstract at the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) 2023 Annual Scientific Meeting.

She and her colleagues randomly assigned 102 children aged 1-12 years with active EoE to three groups for the first 16 weeks of the study: 37 to high-exposure dupilumab; 31 to low-exposure dupilumab; and 34 others to placebo, followed by either high- or low-dose dupilumab. Baseline demographics and disease characteristics were comparable between groups.

During an active 36-week extension period, the 37 participants who were initially assigned to receive high-exposure dupilumab continued the same treatment up to week 52. A total of 29 participants initially assigned to receive low-exposure dupilumab continues their regimen as well. Those initially assigned to receive placebo switched to a preassigned active treatment group; 18 children started to take high-exposure dupilumab, and 14 began to take low-exposure dupilumab.

The children in the study had a high burden of disease, as reflected by the duration of EoE as well as histologic, endoscopic, and clinical scores. The mean age was 7.2 years in the placebo group and 6.8 years in the dupilumab group. They were mostly white boys, Chehade said.

Key Outcomes

At week 16, the high-exposure dupilumab group met the primary study endpoint with a peak esophageal intraepithelial eosinophil count ≤ 6 on high-power field assessment. This was significantly different from the placebo group (least squares mean difference, 64.5; 95% CI, 48.19 to 80.85; P < .0001).

At week 52, 63% of children who remained on high-exposure dupilumab and 53% of those who switched from placebo to high-exposure dupilumab achieved a peak eosinophil count ≤ 6.

The study included multiple secondary outcomes. For example, at week 16, the following measures improved from baseline with high-exposure dupilumab compared with placebo:

  • EoE-Histologic Scoring System grade and stage scores (-0.88 and -0.84 vs +0.02 and +0.05; both P < .0001);

  • EoE-Endoscopic Reference Score (-3.5 vs +0.3; P < .0001);

  • Change in body weight for age percentile (+3.09 vs +0.29); and

  • Numeric improvement in caregiver-reported proportion of days experiencing one or more EoE sign (-0.28 vs -0.17).

At week 52, these outcomes were sustained or improved with continued high-exposure dupilumab. The researchers also saw improvements among the placebo recipients who switched to high-exposure dupilumab.

The reason the children were randomly assigned to high-exposure or low-exposure groups instead of high-dose and low-dose cohorts is because the children grew during the study, Chehade explained. “As you can see, there was a nice change in weight, and at specific time periods the doses were adjusted to match.”

‘Good Safety Profile’

Dupilumab was well tolerated. “The safety profile is very similar to what has been so far described and published for dupilumab in adults,” said Chehade. At week 16, adverse events that were more frequent with dupilumab vs placebo included COVID-19, rash, headache, and injection-site erythema, for example. Similar safety results were seen up to week 52.

“I think it’s promising as we wait for the actual study to be published” said Asmeen Bhatt, MD, PhD, co-moderator of the session and assistant professor of medicine at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “The drug was recently approved for adult EOE use, just last year, and it has been shown to be effective.”

“There are a lot of adult drugs that are now being tested in the pediatric population, and this is one of them,” Bhatt added. “It has a very good safety profile. I’m not a pediatric gastroenterologist but I expect that it will have a lot of utility.”

The study was funded by Regeneron and Sanofi. Chehade is a consultant for Sanofi and Regeneron and receives research funding from Regeneron. Bhatt had no relevant financial disclosures.

American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) 2023 Annual Scientific Meeting: Abstract 73. Presented October 25, 2023.

Damian McNamara is a staff journalist based in Miami. He covers a wide range of medical specialties, including infectious diseases, gastroenterology and critical care. Follow Damian on Twitter: @MedReporter

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