A recent study suggests that a biologic called Bimekizumab (BKZ) could prove effective in treating patients with active axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA). BKZ inhibits IL17A and IL-17F, two proteins known to drive inflammation.
As of October 2023, BKZ is approved in the United States for treatment of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. In the European Union, BKZ is approved for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and axial spondyloarthritis.
Researchers examined the effects of BKZ over a period of 52 weeks. They used data from patients with both radiographic and non-radiographic axSpA. The study was split into two phases. In the first 16 weeks, some patients were given BKZ while others were given a placebo. After this, all patients received BKZ for the remaining 36 weeks.
At the end of the first 16 weeks, patients who had been given BKZ showed improvements in terms of pain, inflammation, and mobility when compared to those who had received the placebo. These benefits remained consistent at the end of the 52 weeks. Patients who had been given the placebo initially showed improvements when they switched to BKZ in week 16.
The following measures were used to assess maintained improvement in patients: Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Score (which includes inflammation markers as well as patient self-reporting of back pain, swollen joints and stiffness), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels, and inflammation of the sacroiliac joints/spine assessed via MRI.
The safety profile of BKZ was consistent over the whole period. The most common side effects experienced were oral candidiasis (nr-axSpA: 7.4%; r-axSpA: 6.1%) and uveitis (nr-axSpA: 1.2%; r-axSpA: 2.1%). A few patients developed inflammatory bowel disease (nr-axSpA: 0.8%; r-axSpA: 0.9%).
The researchers disclosed the following limitations of the study: 1) there was no placebo control group during the second phase of the study and 2) the study didn’t allow for direct comparisons between BKZ and other biologics that inhibit IL-17A alone.
Still, researchers believe the study shows BKZ is an effective and safe treatment for axSpA and that its benefits were maintained for a full year.
- Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases – Bimekizumab treatment in patients with active axial spondyloarthritis
- UCB – UCB Presents New Five-Year Data on BIMZELX® (bimekizumab) in Ankylosing Spondylitis at ACR Convergence 2023
- Spondylitis Association of America – Medications Used to Treat Ankylosing Spondylitis and Related Diseases