Sunday, January 21, 2024

Approval of omaveloxolone for Friedreich ataxia

Subramony SH, Lynch DL. A Milestone in the Treatment of Ataxias: Approval of Omaveloxolone for Friedreich Ataxia. Cerebellum. 2023 May 23. doi: 10.1007/s12311-023-01568-8. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37219716.


The exciting news about the US FDA approval of omaveloxolone as the first-ever drug to be approved for an inherited ataxia is welcome news for patients and families that deal with this devastating disease as well as for health care providers and investigators with an interest in this and other rare diseases. This event is the culmination of long and fruitful collaboration between patients, their families, clinicians, laboratory researchers, patient advocacy organizations, industry, and regulatory agencies. The process has generated intense discussion about outcome measures, biomarkers, trial design, and the nature of approval process for such diseases. It also has brought hope and enthusiasm for increasingly better therapies for genetic diseases in general.

Lee A. Omaveloxolone: First Approval. Drugs. 2023 Jun;83(8):725-729. doi: 10.1007/s40265-023-01874-9. PMID: 37155124.


Omaveloxolone (SKYCLARYS™) is an orally active, small molecule semi-synthetic triterpenoid drug that increases antioxidant activity, which is being developed by Reata Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for the treatment of Friedreich's ataxia. In patients with Friedreich's ataxia, the nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) pathway is suppressed, which is associated with oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and damage to cells, including central and peripheral neurones. The Nrf2 pathway may be activated by omaveloxolone as it blocks the ubiquitination and degradation of Nrf2. Omaveloxolone was approved in February 2023 in the USA for the treatment of Friedreich's ataxia. This article summarizes the milestones in the development of omaveloxolone leading to this first approval for the treatment of Friedreich's ataxia in adults and adolescents aged 16 years and older.

Lynch DR, Chin MP, Delatycki MB, Subramony SH, Corti M, Hoyle JC, Boesch S, Nachbauer W, Mariotti C, Mathews KD, Giunti P, Wilmot G, Zesiewicz T, Perlman S, Goldsberry A, O'Grady M, Meyer CJ. Safety and Efficacy of Omaveloxolone in Friedreich Ataxia (MOXIe Study). Ann Neurol. 2021 Feb;89(2):212-225. doi: 10.1002/ana.25934. Epub 2020 Nov 5. Erratum in: Ann Neurol. 2023 Dec;94(6):1190. PMID: 33068037; PMCID: PMC7894504.

Erratum inCorrection to Safety and Efficacy of Omaveloxolone in Friedreich Ataxia (MOXIe Study).
Lynch D.Ann Neurol. 2023 Dec;94(6):1190. doi: 10.1002/ana.26808. Epub 2023 Oct 5.PMID: 37795909 No abstract available.


Objective: Friedreich ataxia (FA) is a progressive genetic neurodegenerative disorder with no approved treatment. Omaveloxolone, an Nrf2 activator, improves mitochondrial function, restores redox balance, and reduces inflammation in models of FA. We investigated the safety and efficacy of omaveloxolone in patients with FA.

Methods: We conducted an international, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, registrational phase 2 trial at 11 institutions in the United States, Europe, and Australia (NCT02255435, EudraCT2015-002762-23). Eligible patients, 16 to 40 years of age with genetically confirmed FA and baseline modified Friedreich's Ataxia Rating Scale (mFARS) scores between 20 and 80, were randomized 1:1 to placebo or 150mg per day of omaveloxolone. The primary outcome was change from baseline in the mFARS score in those treated with omaveloxolone compared with those on placebo at 48 weeks.

Results: One hundred fifty-five patients were screened, and 103 were randomly assigned to receive omaveloxolone (n = 51) or placebo (n = 52), with 40 omaveloxolone patients and 42 placebo patients analyzed in the full analysis set. Changes from baseline in mFARS scores in omaveloxolone (-1.55 ± 0.69) and placebo (0.85 ± 0.64) patients showed a difference between treatment groups of -2.40 ± 0.96 (p = 0.014). Transient reversible increases in aminotransferase levels were observed with omaveloxolone without increases in total bilirubin or other signs of liver injury. Headache, nausea, and fatigue were also more common among patients receiving omaveloxolone.

Interpretation: In the MOXIe trial, omaveloxolone significantly improved neurological function compared to placebo and was generally safe and well tolerated. It represents a potential therapeutic agent in FA.

Lynch DR, Johnson J. Omaveloxolone: potential new agent for Friedreich ataxia. Neurodegener Dis Manag. 2021 Apr;11(2):91-98. doi: 10.2217/nmt-2020-0057. Epub 2021 Jan 12. PMID: 33430645.


Friedreich ataxia is a slowly progressive neurodegenerative disorder leading to ataxia, dyscoordination, dysarthria and in many individuals vision and hearing loss. It is associated with cardiomyopathy, the leading cause of death in Friedreich ataxia (FRDA), diabetes and scoliosis. There are no approved therapies, but elucidation of the pathophysiology of FRDA suggest that agents that increase the activity of the transcription factor Nrf2 may provide a mechanism for ameliorating disease progression or severity. In this work, we review the evidence for use of omaveloxolone in FRDA from recent clinical trials. Though not at present approved for any indication, the present data suggest that this agent acting though increases in Nrf2 activity may provide a novel therapy for FRDA.

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