Publications & Posters

Ibudilast (MN-166) in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis- An Open Label, Safety And Pharmacodynamic Trial

Neuroimage: Clinical | April 15, 2021

Babu S, Hightower BG, Chan J, Zürcher NR, Kivisäkk P, Tseng C-EJ, Sanders DL, Robichaud A, Banno H, Evora A, Ashokkumar A, Pothier L, Paganoni S, Chew S, Dojillo J, Matsuda K, Gudesblatt M, Berry JD, Cudkowicz ME, Hooker JM and Atassi Nv

NeuroImage: Clinical. 2021:102672



Ibudilast (MN-166) is an inhibitor of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) and phosphodiesterases 3,4,10 and 11 (Gibson et al., 2006; Cho et al., 2010). Ibudilast attenuates CNS microglial activation and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines (Fujimoto et al., 1999; Cho et al., 2010). In vitro evidence suggests that ibudilast is neuroprotective by suppressing neuronal cell death induced by microglial activation. People with ALS have increased microglial activation measured by [11C]PBR28-PET in the motor cortices. The primary objective is to determine the impact of ibudilast on reducing glial activation and neuroaxonal loss in ALS, measured by PBR28-PET and serum Neurofilament light (NfL) . The secondary objectives included determining safety and tolerability of ibudilast high dosage (up to 100 mg/day) over 36 weeks.

In this open label trial, 35 eligible ALS participants underwent ibudilast treatment up to 100 mg/day for 36 weeks. Of these, 30 participants were enrolled in the main study cohort and were included in biomarker, safety and tolerability analyses. Five additional participants were enrolled in the expanded access arm, who did not meet imaging eligibility criteria and were included in the safety and tolerability analyses. The primary endpoints were median change from baseline in (a)PBR28-PET uptake in primary motor cortices, measured by standard uptake value ratio (SUVR) over 12-24 weeks and (b) serum NfL over 36-40 weeks. The secondary safety and tolerability endpoints were collected through Week 40.

The baseline median (range) of PBR28-PET SUVR was 1.033 (0.847, 1.170) and NfL was 60.3 (33.1, 219.3) pg/ml. Participants who completed both pre and post-treatment scans had PBR28-PET SUVR median(range) change from baseline of 0.002 (-0.184, 0.156) , P= 0.5 (n=22). The median(range) NfL change from baseline was 0.4 pg/ml (-1.8, 17.5), P=0.2 (n=10 participants). 30(86%) participants experienced at least one, possibly study drug related adverse event. 13(37%) participants could not tolerate 100mg/day and underwent dose reduction to 60-80mg/day and 11(31%) participants discontinued study drug early due to drug related adverse events.

The study concludes that following treatment with ibudilast up to 100 mg/day in ALS participants, there were no significant reductions in (a) motor cortical glial activation measured by PBR28-PET SUVR over 12-24 weeks or (b) CNS neuroaxonal loss, measured by serum NfL over 36-40 weeks. Dose reductions and discontinuations due to treatment emergent adverse events were common at this dosage in ALS participants. Future pharmacokinetic and dose-finding studies of ibudilast would help better understand tolerability and target engagement in ALS.