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Blood. 2018 Aug 2;132(5):501-509. doi: 10.1182/blood-2018-02-835330. Epub 2018 May 8.

Dexpramipexole as an oral steroid-sparing agent in hypereosinophilic syndromes.

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Department of Transfusion Medicine, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.
Knopp Biosciences, Pittsburgh, PA.
Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Department of Laboratory Medicine, Clinical Center.
Biostatistics Research Branch, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and.
Hematology Branch, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.


Hypereosinophilic syndromes (HESs) are a heterogeneous group of disorders characterized by peripheral eosinophilia and eosinophil-related end organ damage. Whereas most patients respond to glucocorticoid (GC) therapy, high doses are often necessary, and side effects are common. Dexpramipexole (KNS-760704), an orally bioavailable synthetic aminobenzothiazole, showed an excellent safety profile and was coincidentally noted to significantly decrease absolute eosinophil counts (AECs) in a phase 3 trial for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. This proof-of-concept study was designed to evaluate dexpramipexole (150 mg orally twice daily) as a GC-sparing agent in HESs. Dual primary end points were (1) the proportion of subjects with ≥50% decrease in the minimum effective GC dose (MED) to maintain AEC <1000/μL and control clinical symptoms, and (2) the MED after 12 weeks of dexpramipexole (MEDD) as a percentage of the MED at week 0. Out of 10 subjects, 40% (95% confidence interval [CI], 12%, 74%) achieved a ≥50% reduction in MED, and the MEDD/MED ratio was significantly <100% (median, 66%; 95% CI, 6%, 98%; P = .03). All adverse events were self-limited, and none led to drug discontinuation. Affected tissue biopsy samples in 2 subjects showed normalization of pathology and depletion of eosinophils on dexpramipexole. Bone marrow biopsy samples after 12 weeks of dexpramipexole showed selective absence of mature eosinophils in responders. Dexpramipexole appears promising as a GC-sparing agent without apparent toxicity in a subset of subjects with GC-responsive HESs. Although the exact mechanism of action is unknown, preliminary data suggest that dexpramipexole may affect eosinophil maturation in the bone marrow. This study was registered at as #NCT02101138.

[Available on 2019-08-02]

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