Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is a chronic liver disease characterised by the presence of hepatic steatosis, inflammation, and hepatocellular injury, for which no Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved treatment exists. FGF19 is a hormone that regulates bile acid synthesis and glucose homoeostasis. We aimed to assess the safety and efficacy of NGM282, an engineered FGF19 analogue, for the treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.
In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 2 study, we recruited patients aged 18–75 years with biopsy-confirmed non-alcoholic steatohepatitis as defined by the non-alcoholic steatohepatitis clinical research network histological scoring system, from hospitals and gastroenterology and liver clinics in Australia and the USA. Key eligibility criteria included a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease activity score of 4 or higher, stage 1–3 fibrosis, and at least 8% liver fat content. Patients were randomly assigned (1:1:1) via a web-based system and stratified by diabetic status to receive either 3 mg or 6 mg subcutaneous NGM282 or placebo. The primary endpoint was the absolute change from baseline to week 12 in liver fat content. Responders were patients who achieved a 5% or larger reduction in absolute liver fat content as measured by MRI-proton density fat fraction. Efficacy analysis was by intention to treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT02443116.
Between July 14, 2015, and Aug 30, 2016, 166 patients were screened across 18 sites in Australia and the USA. 82 patients were randomly assigned to receive 3 mg NGM282 (n=27), 6 mg NGM282 (n=28), or placebo (n=27). At 12 weeks, 20 (74%) patients in the 3 mg dose group and 22 (79%) in the 6 mg dose group achieved at least a 5% reduction in absolute liver fat content from baseline (relative risk 10.0 [95% CI 2.6–38.7] vs 11∙4 [3.0–43.8], respectively; p
NGM282 produced rapid and significant reductions in liver fat content with an acceptable safety profile in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Further study of NGM282 is warranted in this patient population.