Potential Myotonic Dystrophy Drug Fails! – Ionis Myotonic Dystrophy Drug fails to reach minimal therapeutic value

In a instant news email the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation (MDF) released information that the Ionis Pharmaceutical Drug DMPK-2.5Rx research project has been canceled. The drug DMPK-2.5Rx did not work, and did not get the correct amount of therapeutic drugs into the cells of the patients with myotonic dystrophy. The company may still continue research on a more potent combination but the current trial is halted.

This is hard to hear news for the myotonic community. This is the second drug in development to fail. This new drug is part of a number of new generation of interest drugs  in trying to find a drug to treat the disease. There are still a number of drugs in development but the Ionis one was the most advanced. Perhaps the information in this trial will be of help to the other drugs in development.  For those in the late stages of the disease the length of time to find a treatment that is FDA approved in unlikely now.

There continues to be some “off label” treatments including erythromycin and some NSAIDS as well as Actinomycin-D but none have had any proven human effect.

More information below.

Ionis Pharmaceuticals Reports on
DMPKRx Phase 1/2 Clinical Trial

Ionis Pharmaceuticals recently concluded a Phase 1/2 clinical trial to evaluate IONIS-DMPK-2.5Rx in myotonic dystrophy patients. IONIS-DMPK-2.5Rx was designed to target the toxic DMPK RNA in muscle that is responsible for myotonia or muscle dysfunction in DM1 patients. The clinical trial used dose escalation to assess safety and explore biomarkers for target engagement in muscle biopsies.

Ionis reports that small but encouraging trends in biomarker and splicing changes were observed during the trial, and that this study provided a much better understanding of how future clinical trials and improved clinical endpoints may be used. However, drug levels measured in biopsy tissue from trial participants indicated that the amount of target engagement would not achieve the desired therapeutic benefit to treat this disease.

Without the desired drug levels in muscle, Ionis has decided not to advance IONIS-DMPK-2.5Rx. It will instead pursue the discovery of a more potent drug to target DMPK using new muscle-targeting LICA chemistry made at Ionis.

The company sincerely thanks everyone in the DM community that participated in the study - patients, caregivers and physicians, noting, “we are committed to the DM patient community and we hope to advance a new, more potent drug into development that will benefit people living with DM1.”

Ionis invites DM community members to submit questions regarding the above announcement via this email address. MDF will collect questions through January 12th and then work with Ionis to get answers out to the community as soon as possible.

Phenylbutazone & NSAIDS – Another potential treatment(s) for Myotonic Dystrophy

Orudis KT

Another paper has been published and revealed another potential treatment for myotonic dystrophy, Phenylbutazone PBZ.. Interestingly this study was also done in Japan………… now a hotbed of repositioning drugs for treatment of myotonic dystrophy.   some info from the study

“Using the drug repositioning strategy, we found that PBZ markedly elevated MBNL1 expression in myogenic cells(Fig. 1 and Supplementary Fig. S1) as well as in skeletal muscles in HSALR mice model (Fig. 2 and Supplementary Fig. S2). PBZ mitigated muscle pathology (Fig. 2d,e) and improved the running wheel activity and grip strength
in HSALR mice (Fig. 2c and Supplementary Fig. S2d).”

This summary above  showed that in mice this drug helped mice with myotonic dystrophy run on the wheel better and had better grip strength. More info below

PBZ is an NSAID with anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, and analgesic activities. PBZ was approved in humans for rheumatoid arthritis and gout in 1949. Although incidental adverse effects of fatal liver disease and aplastic anemia markedly lowered the use of PBZ, PBZ is still used as an alternative drug for ankylosing spondylitis32,33.
Interestingly, another NSAID, ketoprofen has been reported to suppress CUG-induced lethality in Drosophila34, and we also found that 50 μ M ketoprofen upregulated the expression of Mbnl1 mRNA 1.2-fold in C2C12 cells, which was lower than the 1.3-fold increase of Mbnl1 mRNA by 50 μ M PBZ (Supplementary Fig. S6). Ketoprofen
and some other NSAIDs may have beneficial effects on a mouse model of DM1, as well as on DM1 patients.

Editors Note: This drug (PBZ) approval was removed for humans in 2003 in the USA and Canada. It is available for use in animals only. The drug Ketoprofen was not studied in depth but is an approved NSAZID drug in the USA. We have choosen the image of Ketoprofen as this is an approved drug in the USA.

Full study is Here.. Phenylbutazone Treatment DM1 mice

New Book about a Family with Myotonic Dystrophy

There are not many books about myotonic dystrophy. There is a fictional series about a skater that has myotonic dystrophy. I wrote a short book about the hopes and aspirations of my son “The boy who was President”. Now comes a great biography about a family with Myotonic Dystrophy. A must read for all with the disease. Here’s a short introduction:

As a young girl, my constant goal was to help my brother, Dustin, walk. Dustin’s limits were hard to gauge because he constantly surpassed expectations. He was born with congenital myotonic dystrophy and expected to die, then to live three months, then three years. Instead, he gained strength and capabilities until age 13, when he had a simple cold and just did not wake up from his nap. His body became too much for the largest muscle in his body, his heart.

While Dustin was alive, I threw quarters in wells, prayed every night, and practiced with him every day after he had surgery and got corrective braces. I would stretch my brother’s legs, rotate his ankles, do resistance exercises and help him practice standing. At age 12, I thought willpower was so strong that, through perseverance and dedication, I could will my brother to walk.

Three years older than my brother, I grew up doing adult caretaking tasks. Through the years, I would change thousands of diapers, brush Dustin’s teeth, lift him into bed, administer nebulizer treatments, clean his feeding tube, watch him when both my parents had to work, bathe him, unload his wheelchair from the bus and play with him. Most things I did for my brother were helpful, but with my conceptions about willpower and Dustin walking, I pushed my brother past his comfort level more than once and caused more pain than progress. For me, a healthy sibling, willpower was a tool to push past obstacles. However, the same view I took of my young healthy body proved detrimental to my brother’s and caused him pain.

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What is the cost of Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy tops $10 Billion Dollars in USA?

Medical Cost

When my son was born I had no idea that he would be an Over 5 Million Dollar Man.But he was born as a premmie and our medical bills started even before Day 1. The major cost of the disease concentrations on respiratory symptoms. For young people with this disease a strong effort is made to stabilize and improve respiratory function. The recovery period for individuals with this disease is very lengthy.

Moms confinement before delivery                              $200,000
85 day NICU stay                                                       $1,400,000
Ear Tube Placements (8)                                                 40,000
Special Education  Grade 0-6                                         200,000
Heel Cord Surgery                                                            25,000
Special Education grade 7-14                                        210,000
Caregivers state of Ca 2012-2016                                 450,000
Hospitalization 2010 (80 days)                                       875,000
Hospitalization 2015 (79 Days)                                      850,000
Hospitalization 2016 (89 days)                                       950,000
Cardiac Monitoring                                                            40,000

Currently we are at US$5.2 Million in Hospital and Medical Care for him. The insurance has picked up all the costs incurred, but still its a high price.

In the USA the incident of congenital myotonic dystrophy is 1/100,000. That computes to about 3,500 individuals with the disease. At a five million dollar overall cost the math computes to an overall projected cost could top 18.2 billion.

If the 5 million is a outlier the cost would still be in the neighborhood of $10 billion overall cost. That’s a very high cost to society.

Chronic Pain and Myotonic Dystrophy

A recent article explored Chronic Pain and myotonic dystrophy. (click on link for full study). this is something that many of our patients experience. Heat was being used by 26% of patients. The only treatment that was relatively highly effective and was still being used by a substantial number of patients (26%) was heat. Perhaps this is because heat is an extremely accessible treatment (most people own a hot water bottle or heating pad) that has few, if any, negative side effects.

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