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Discovery and Model-Informed Drug Development of a Controlled-Release Formulation of Nonracemic Amisulpride that Reduces Plasma Exposure but Achieves Pharmacodynamic Bioequivalence in the Brain.

Nonracemic amisulpride (SEP-4199) is an investigational 85:15 ratio of aramisulpride to esamisulpride and currently in clinical trials for the treatment of bipolar depression. During testing of SEP-4199, a pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) disconnect was discovered that prompted the development of a controlled-release (CR) formulation with improved therapeutic index for QT prolongation. Observations that supported the development of a CR formulation included (i) plasma concentrations of amisulpride enantiomers were cleared within 24-hours, but brain dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) occupancies, although achieving stable levels during this time, required 5 days to return to baseline; (ii) nonracemic amisulpride administered to non-human primates produced significantly greater D2R occupancies during a gradual 6-hour administration compared with a single bolus; (iii) concentration-occupancy curves were left-shifted in humans when nonracemic amisulpride was gradually administered over 3 and 6 hours compared with immediate delivery; (iv) CR solid oral dose formulations of nonracemic amisulpride were able to slow drug dissolution in vitro and reduce peak plasma exposures in vivo in human subjects. By mathematically solving for a drug distribution step into an effect compartment, and for binding to target receptors, the discovery of a novel PK/PD model (termed here as Distribution Model) accounted for hysteresis between plasma and brain, a lack of receptor saturation, and an absence of accumulation of drug occupancy with daily doses. The PK/PD disconnect solved by the Distribution Model provided model-informed drug development to continue in Phase III using the non-bioequivalent CR formulation with diminished QT prolongation as dose-equivalent to the immediate release (IR) formulation utilized in Phase II.

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