Omaveloxolone, an Nrf2 activator, improves mitochondrial function, restores redox balance, and reduces inflammation in models of Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA). We investigated the safety and efficacy of omaveloxolone in patients with FRDA. The authors conducted an international, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled parallel-group, registrational phase 2 trial at 11 institutions in the United States, Europe, and Australia (NCT02255435, EudraCT2015-002762-23). Eligible patients, 16 to 40 years of age with genetically confirmed FRDA and baseline modified Friedreich's Ataxia Rating Scale (mFARS) scores between 20 and 80, were randomized 1:1 to placebo or 150 mg per day of omaveloxolone. The primary outcome was change from baseline in the mFARS score in those treated with omaveloxolone compared with those on placebo at 48 weeks. 155 patients were screened and 103 were randomly assigned to receive omaveloxolone (n=51) or placebo (n=52), with 40 omaveloxolone patients and 42 placebo patients analyzed in the full analysis set. Changes from baseline in mFARS scores in omaveloxolone (-1.55 ± 0.69) and placebo (0.85 ± 0.64) patients showed a difference between treatment groups of -2.40 ± 0.96; p=0.014). Transient reversible increases in aminotransferase levels were observed with omaveloxolone without increases in total bilirubin or other signs of liver injury. Headache, nausea, and fatigue were also more common among patients receiving omaveloxolone. In the MOXIe trial, omaveloxolone significantly improved neurological function compared to placebo and was generally safe and well tolerated. It represents a potential therapeutic agent in FRDA.
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