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The TEAMMATE Trial: Study Design and Rationale Tacrolimus and Everolimus Against TACROLIMUS and MMF in Pediatric Heart Transplantation Using the Major Adverse Transplant Event (MATE) Score.

American Heart Journal 2023 Februrary 23
BACKGROUND: Currently there are no immunosuppression regimens FDA-approved to prevent rejection in pediatric heart transplantation (HT). In recent years, everolimus (EVL) has emerged as a potential alternative to standard tacrolimus (TAC) as the primary immunosuppressant to prevent rejection that may also reduce the risk of cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV), chronic kidney disease (CKD) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. However, the two regimens have never been compared head-to-head in a randomized trial. The study design and rationale are reviewed in light of the challenges inherent in rare disease research.

METHODS: The TEAMMATE trial (NCT03386539, IND 127980) is the first multicenter randomized clinical trial (RCT) in pediatric HT. The primary purpose is to evaluate the safety and efficacy of EVL and low-dose TAC (LD-TAC) compared to standard-dose TAC and mycophenolate mofetil (MMF). Children aged <21 years at HT were randomized (1:1 ratio) at six months post-HT to either regimen, and followed for 30 months. Children with recurrent rejection, multi-organ transplant recipients, and those with an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) <30 ml/min/1.73m2 were excluded. The primary efficacy hypothesis is that, compared to TAC/MMF, EVL/LD-TAC is more effective in preventing 3 MATEs: acute cellular rejection (ACR), CKD and CAV. The primary safety hypothesis is that EVL/LD-TAC does not have a higher cumulative burden of 6 MATEs (antibody mediated rejection [AMR], infection, and post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder [PTLD] in addition to the 3 above). The primary endpoint is the MATE score, a composite, ordinal surrogate endpoint reflecting the frequency and severity of MATEs that is validated against graft loss. The study had a target sample size of 210 patients across 25 sites and is powered to demonstrate superior efficacy of EVL/LD-TAC. Trial enrollment is complete and participant follow-up will be completed in 2023.

CONCLUSION: The TEAMMATE trial is the first multicenter RCT in pediatric HT. It is anticipated that the study will provide important information about the safety and efficacy of everolimus- vs tacrolimus-based regimens and will provide valuable lessons into the design and conduct of future trials in pediatric HT.

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