HCV evolutionary genetics of SVR versus virologic failure assessed from the vaniprevir phase III registration trials

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Abstract

In the phase III registration studies conducted in Japan, Japanese HCV gt1 patients administered vaniprevir 300 mg twice daily plus pegylated interferon/ribavirin for 12 or 24 weeks achieved SVR24 rates of 83.7–84.5% among treatment-naïve patients, and 92.0–96.2% and 61.9% among breakthrough/relapsers or null-responders to prior interferon based therapy. As evidenced by direct sequencing, patients who did not achieve SVR24 principally failed due to treatment-emerging mutations at D168 or in a few cases R155. In this work, additional sequence analysis was conducted to address whether there were baseline polymorphisms associated with failure, evaluate the persistence of resistant virus among treatment failures, and assess for evidence of second site co-evolution with R155 or D168 mutations. To accomplish this, clonal sequencing (up to 40 clones per sample) was conducted on baseline, failure, and follow-up samples from all 38 patients among the vaniprevir treatment arms who met virologic failure criteria (37 gt1b, 1 gt1a, herein referred to as virologic failures) and baseline samples from 41 vaniprevir-treated SVR24 patients (all gt1b) selected among the three studies. SVR24 and virologic failure patients showed similar distributions of baseline polymorphisms previously associated with failure to one or more protease inhibitors. Furthermore, there was no evidence for baseline polymorphisms or a genetic signature across the NS3 protease domain specific to virologic failure patients, and which distinguishes them from baseline SVR24 sequences beyond a chance distribution. 24 of 32 virologic failures for whom baseline, failure, and follow-up samples were available showed reduced prevalence of the resistant virus first observed at the time of failure during the protocol-defined follow-up period of 24 weeks. Finally, pairwise analysis using either alignment or phylogenetic based methodologies provided no evidence for second site evolution with either the R155 or D168 mutations attributed to failure. This work supports and extends earlier findings based upon direct sequencing that attributed virologic failure to vaniprevir in the Phase III studies solely to the emergence of R155 or D168 mutations, with no apparent influence by other residues within the NS3 protease domain on treatment outcome.

ClinicalTrials.govIdentifiers:

NCT01370642, NCT01405937, NCT01405560

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