Lessons Learned from Discontinued Clinical Developments in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Markati T., De Waele L., Schara-Schmidt U., Servais L.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked condition caused by a deficiency of functional dystrophin protein. Patients experience progressive muscle weakness, cardiomyopathy and have a decreased life expectancy. Standards of care, including treatment with steroids, and multidisciplinary approaches have extended the life expectancy and improved the quality of life of patients. In the last 30 years, several compounds have been assessed in preclinical and clinical studies for their ability to restore functional dystrophin levels or to modify pathways involved in DMD pathophysiology. However, there is still an unmet need with regards to a disease-modifying treatment for DMD and the attrition rate between early-phase and late-phase clinical development remains high. Currently, there are 40 compounds in clinical development for DMD, including gene therapy and antisense oligonucleotides for exon skipping. Only five of them have received conditional approval in one jurisdiction subject to further proof of efficacy. In this review, we present data of another 16 compounds that failed to complete clinical development, despite positive results in early phases of development in some cases. We examine the reasons for the high attrition rate and we suggest solutions to avoid similar mistakes in the future.