Cimaglermin alfa (GGF2) is a recombinant human protein growth factor in development for heart failure. Phase I trials were suspended when two cimaglermin alfa-treated subjects experienced concomitant elevations in serum aminotransferases and total bilirubin, meeting current US Food and Drug Administration criteria for a serious liver safety signal (i.e., “Hy’s Law”). We assayed mechanistic biomarkers in archived clinical trial serum samples which confirmed the hepatic origin of the aminotransferase elevations in these two subjects and identified apoptosis as the major mode of hepatocyte death. Using a mathematical model of drug-induced liver injury (DILIsym) and a simulated population, we estimated that the maximum hepatocyte loss in these two subjects was <13%, which would not result in liver dysfunction sufficient to significantly increase serum bilirubin levels. We conclude that the two subjects should not be considered Hy’s Law cases and that mechanistic biomarkers and modeling can aid in refining liver safety risk assessment in clinical trials.
by Grant Generaux, Brett A Howell, Scott Q Siler, Paul B Watkins