Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ARNA) announced today results from a Phase 1 clinical trial of APD916, a novel drug candidate discovered by Arena that targets the histamine H3 receptor for the treatment of narcolepsy with cataplexy. The randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled trial evaluated the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of 1 mg, 3 mg and 5 mg single doses of APD916. The trial evaluated 24 healthy volunteers in three cohorts of eight participants each, six randomized to APD916 and two to placebo. APD916 demonstrated dose-proportional pharmacokinetic exposure over the tested dose range. The terminal half-life was approximately 50 hours. Dose-limiting CNS adverse events occurred at the 5 mg dose, including insomnia, abnormal dreams and a nightmare. Adverse events of insomnia, nausea, headache, parosmia, alterations in perception of body temperature, abnormal dreams and visual and tactile hallucinations were commonly reported at the 3 mg and 5 mg doses, and adverse events of insomnia were commonly reported at the 1 mg dose. All adverse events in the trial were mild or moderate in nature. No serious adverse events were reported nor were there any significant safety issues with respect to vital signs, ECGs or laboratory testing. “APD916 is a highly potent compound, and we believe that exposures of 1 mg or less could be sufficient for the intended patient population,” said William R. Shanahan, M.D., Arena’s Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer. “We are currently evaluating next steps for this program.”
APD916, a potent and selective inverse agonist of the histamine H3 receptor, is Arena’s internally discovered drug candidate for the treatment of narcolepsy with cataplexy. The histamine H3 receptor is predominantly expressed in the brain, and inverse agonists of the H3 receptor increase the synthesis and release of histamine through inhibition of presynaptic autoreceptors. Enhanced histamine release plays an important role in arousal, and the histaminergic system is at least partly under the control of orexin/hypocretin neurons. Narcolepsy with and without cataplexy have been associated with orexin/hypocretin deficiency and low levels of histamine in cerebrospinal fluid. Therefore, an H3 inverse agonist, by increasing central histamine activity, may potentially be effective in the treatment of these conditions.
About Narcolepsy and Cataplexy
Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain’s inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally. At various times throughout the day, people with narcolepsy experience fleeting urges to sleep. If the urge becomes overwhelming, individuals will fall asleep for periods lasting from a few seconds to several minutes. Cataplexy, or the sudden loss of muscle tone often triggered by emotional factors, is a symptom of narcolepsy and can cause a range of physical changes, from slurred speech to complete weakness of most muscles. According to the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, narcolepsy affects about one in every 2,000 Americans. Treatments are limited and consist of stimulant drugs to suppress daytime sleepiness and antidepressants for cataplexy. The only approved treatment for cataplexy in the United States is Xyrem (sodium oxybate), a DEA Schedule III drug.
About Arena Pharmaceuticals
Arena is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing oral drugs that target G protein-coupled receptors, an important class of validated drug targets, in four major therapeutic areas: cardiovascular, central nervous system, inflammatory and metabolic diseases. Arena’s most advanced drug candidate, lorcaserin, is intended for weight management and has completed a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial program. Arena has filed an NDA for lorcaserin with the FDA, and the FDA has assigned a PDUFA date of October 22, 2010, for review of the application. Arena’s wholly owned subsidiary, Arena Pharmaceuticals GmbH, has granted Eisai Inc. exclusive rights to market and distribute lorcaserin in the United States.