Chronic preclinical safety evaluation of EPO-018B, a pegylated peptidic erythropoiesis-stimulating agent in monkeys and rats

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Abstract

EPO-018B, a synthetic peptide-based erythropoiesis stimulating agent (ESA), is mainly designed for treatment of anemia caused by chronic renal failure and chemotherapy against cancer. It overcomes the deficiencies of currently approved ESA, including the frequent administration of temperature-sensitive recombinant protein and anti-EPO antibody-mediated pure red cell aplasia (PRCA). This study was designed to evaluate the potential chronic toxicity of EPO-018B. Subcutaneous administration doses were designed as 0, 0.2, 1 and 10 mg/kg for six months for 160 rats (20/gender/group) and 0, 0.3, 3 and 20 mg/kg for nine months for 32 monkeys (4/gender/group) once every three weeks. The vehicles received the same volume of physiological saline injection. All animals survived to the scheduled necropsies after six weeks (for rats) and fourteen weeks (for monkeys) recovery period, except for the two high-dose female rats and two high-dose male monkeys, which were considered related to the increased RBCs, chronic blood hyperviscosity and chronic cardiac injury. EPO-018B is supposed to be subcutaneously injected once every month and the intended human therapeutic dose is 0.025 mg/kg. The study findings at 0.2 mg/kg for rats and 0.3 mg/kg for monkeys were considered to be the study NOAEL (the no observed adverse effect level), which were more than ten times the intended human therapeutic dose. Higher doses caused adverse effects related to the liver toxicity, cardiotoxicity, appearance of neutralizing antibodies of EPO-018B and the decrease of serum glucose and cholesterol. Most treatment-induced effects were reversible or revealed ongoing recovery upon the discontinuation of treatment. The sequelae occurred in rats and monkeys were considered secondary to exaggerated pharmacology and would less likely occur in the intended patient population. As to the differences between human beings and animals, the safety of EPO-018B need to be further confirmed in the future clinical studies.

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