Objective The primary objective of the study was to explore safety and tolerability of hyperimmune caprine serum (AIMSPRO) in established diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis (SSc). Secondary objectives included assessment of potential efficacy and biological activity and exploration of candidate biomarkers.
Methods This was a double-blind parallel group randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial. After informed consent 20 patients with established diffuse cutaneous SSc of greater than 3 years duration not receiving immunosuppressive therapy were randomised to receive either active (n=10) or placebo formulation (n=10) by subcutaneous twice weekly injection over 26 weeks. Clinical assessments were evaluated over 26 weeks.
Results There were no safety concerns during this study. Frequency of adverse events was not different between active and placebo groups. Mean modified Rodnan Skin Score (mRSS) fell by 1.4±4.7 units with active treatment but increased by 2.1±6.4 units on placebo when baseline values were compared with 26 weeks and responder analysis showed clinically meaningful improvement in mRSS at 26 weeks in 5 (50%) of actively treated patients compared with 1 (10%) in the control group (p=0.062). PIIINP (µg/L) showed a comparatively larger increase in the treatment group compared with the placebo group, (p=0.0118).
Conclusions These results confirm tolerability and safety of this novel biological agent in established diffuse SSc. The value of a placebo treated control group in small clinical trials evaluating skin disease in SSc is confirmed. Potential improvement in mRSS and changes in PIIINP in cases receiving active therapy suggest that this intervention may be of clinical benefit and warrants further evaluation.
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