JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

SMA CARNI-VAL trial part I: double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of L-carnitine and valproic acid in spinal muscular atrophy

Kathryn J Swoboda, Charles B Scott, Thomas O Crawford, Louise R Simard, Sandra P Reyna, Kristin J Krosschell, Gyula Acsadi, Bakri Elsheik, Mary K Schroth, Guy D'Anjou, Bernard LaSalle, Thomas W Prior, Susan L Sorenson, Jo Anne Maczulski, Mark B Bromberg, Gary M Chan, John T Kissel
PloS One 2010 August 19, 5 (8): e12140
20808854

BACKGROUND: Valproic acid (VPA) has demonstrated potential as a therapeutic candidate for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) in vitro and in vivo.

METHODS: Two cohorts of subjects were enrolled in the SMA CARNIVAL TRIAL, a non-ambulatory group of "sitters" (cohort 1) and an ambulatory group of "walkers" (cohort 2). Here, we present results for cohort 1: a multicenter phase II randomized double-blind intention-to-treat protocol in non-ambulatory SMA subjects 2-8 years of age. Sixty-one subjects were randomized 1:1 to placebo or treatment for the first six months; all received active treatment the subsequent six months. The primary outcome was change in the modified Hammersmith Functional Motor Scale (MHFMS) score following six months of treatment. Secondary outcomes included safety and adverse event data, and change in MHFMS score for twelve versus six months of active treatment, body composition, quantitative SMN mRNA levels, maximum ulnar CMAP amplitudes, myometry and PFT measures.

RESULTS: At 6 months, there was no difference in change from the baseline MHFMS score between treatment and placebo groups (difference = 0.643, 95% CI = -1.22-2.51). Adverse events occurred in >80% of subjects and were more common in the treatment group. Excessive weight gain was the most frequent drug-related adverse event, and increased fat mass was negatively related to change in MHFMS values (p = 0.0409). Post-hoc analysis found that children ages two to three years that received 12 months treatment, when adjusted for baseline weight, had significantly improved MHFMS scores (p = 0.03) compared to those who received placebo the first six months. A linear regression analysis limited to the influence of age demonstrates young age as a significant factor in improved MHFMS scores (p = 0.007).

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated no benefit from six months treatment with VPA and L-carnitine in a young non-ambulatory cohort of subjects with SMA. Weight gain, age and treatment duration were significant confounding variables that should be considered in the design of future trials.

TRIAL REGISTRY: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT00227266.

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