Bunin, Deborah I., Harold S. Javitz, Janet Gahagen, James Bakke, Joan H. Lane, Dina A. Andrews, and Polly Y. Chang. “Survival and Hematologic Benefits of Romiplostim after Acute Radiation Exposure Supported FDA Approval under the Animal Rule.” International Journal of Radiation Oncology* Biology* Physics (2023).
Patients exposed to acute high doses of ionizing radiation are susceptible to dose-dependent bone marrow depression with resultant pancytopenia. Romiplostim (RP; Nplate) is a recombinant thrombopoietin receptor agonist protein that promotes progenitor megakaryocyte proliferation and platelet production and is an approved treatment for patients with chronic immune thrombocytopenia. The goal of our study was to evaluate the postirradiation survival and hematologic benefits of a single dose of RP with or without pegfilgrastim (PF; Neulasta, granulocyte colony stimulating factor) by conducting a well-controlled, blinded, good laboratory practice-compliant study in rhesus macaques that was compliant with the United States Food and Drug Administration Animal Rule regulatory approval pathway.
Methods and Materials
Irradiated male and female rhesus macaques (20/sex in each of 3 groups: control, RP, and RP + PF) were subcutaneously administered vehicle or RP (5 mg/kg, 10 mL/kg) on day 1 in the presence or absence of 2 doses of PF (0.3 mg/kg, 0.03 mL/kg, days 1 and 8). Total body radiation (680 cGy, 50 cGy/min from cobalt-60 gamma ray source) occurred 24 ± 2 hours previously at a dose targeting 70% lethality for the control cohort over 60 days. The study examined 60-day survival postirradiation as the primary endpoint. Secondary endpoints included incidence, severity, and duration of thrombocytopenia and neutropenia, other hematology parameters, coagulation parameters, and body weight change to provide insights into potential mechanisms of action.
Compared with sham-treated controls, treated animals demonstrated a 40% to 55% survival benefit compared with controls, less severe clinical signs, reduced incidence of thrombocytopenia and/or neutropenia, earlier hematologic recovery, and reduced morbidity from bacterial infection.
These results were pivotal in obtaining Food and Drug Administration approval in January 2021 for RP’s new indication as a single administration therapy to increase survival in adults and pediatric patients acutely exposed to myelosuppressive doses of radiation.