A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of canakinumab in children and young adults with sickle cell anemia

Rees D. C., KILINÇ Y., ÜNAL S., Dampier C., Pace B. S., Kaya B., ...More

BLOOD, vol.139, no.17, pp.2642-2652, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 139 Issue: 17
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1182/blood.2021013674
  • Journal Name: BLOOD
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts Core, EMBASE, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.2642-2652
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Excessive intravascular release of lysed cellular contents from damaged red blood cells (RBCs) in patients with sickle cell anemia (SCA) can activate the inflammasome, a multiprotein oligomer promoting maturation and secretion of proinflammatory cytokines, including interleuldn-1 beta (IL-1 beta). We hypothesized that IL-1 beta blockade by canakinumab in patients with SCA would reduce markers of inflammation and clinical disease activity. In this randomized, double-blind, multicenter phase 2a study, patients aged 8 to 20 years with SCA (HbSS or HbS beta(0)-thalassemia), history of acute pain episodes, and elevated high-sensitivity C-reactive protein >1.0 mg/L at screening were randomized 1:1 to received 6 monthly treatments with 300 mg subcutaneous canakinumab or placebo. Measured outcomes at baseline and weeks 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, and 24 included electronic patient-reported outcomes, hospitalization rate, and adverse events (AEs) and serious AEs (SAEs). All but 1 of the 49 enrolled patients were receiving stable background hydroxyurea therapy. Although the primary objective (prespecified reduction of pain) was not met, compared with patients in the placebo arm, patients treated with canakinumab had reductions in markers of inflammation, occurrence of SCA-related AEs and SAEs, and number and duration of hospitalizations as well as trends for improvement in pain intensity, fatigue, and absences from school or work. Post hoc analysis revealed treatment effects on weight, restricted to pediatric patients. Canakinumab was well tolerated with no treatment-related SAEs and no new safety signal. These findings demonstrate that the inflammation associated with SCA can be reduced by selective IL-1 beta blockade by canakinumab with potential for therapeutic benefits.