Efficacy and tolerability of an endogenous metabolic modulator (AXA1125) in fatigue-predominant long COVID: a single-centre, double-blind, randomised controlled phase 2a pilot study
Finnigan LEM., Cassar MP., Koziel MJ., Pradines J., Lamlum H., Azer K., Kirby D., Montgomery H., Neubauer S., Valkovič L., Raman B.
Background: ‘Long COVID’ describes persistent symptoms, commonly fatigue, lasting beyond 12 weeks following SARS-CoV-2 infection. Potential causes include reduced mitochondrial function and cellular bioenergetics. AXA1125 has previously increased β-oxidation and improved bioenergetics in preclinical models along with certain clinical conditions, and therefore may reduce fatigue associated with Long COVID. We aimed to assess the efficacy, safety and tolerability of AXA1125 in Long COVID. Methods: Patients with fatigue dominant Long COVID were recruited in this single-centre, double-blind, randomised controlled phase 2a pilot study completed in the UK. Patients were randomly assigned (1:1) using an Interactive Response Technology to receive either AXA1125 or matching placebo in a clinical based setting. Each dose (33.9 g) of AXA1125 or placebo was administered orally in a liquid suspension twice daily for four weeks with a two week follow-up period. The primary endpoint was the mean change from baseline to day 28 in the phosphocreatine (PCr) recovery rate following moderate exercise, assessed by 31P-magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). All patients were included in the intention to treat analysis. This trial was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT05152849. Findings: Between December 15th 2021, and May 23th 2022, 60 participants were screened and 41 participants were randomised and included in the final analysis. Changes in skeletal muscle phosphocreatine recovery time constant (τPCr) and 6-min walk test (6MWT) did not significantly differ between treatment (n = 21) and placebo group (n = 20). However, treatment with AXA1125 was associated with significantly reduced day 28 Chalder Fatigue Questionnaire [CFQ-11] fatigue score when compared with placebo (least squares mean difference [LSMD] −4.30, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) −7.14, −1.47; P = 0.0039). Eleven (52.4%, AXA1125) and four (20.0%, placebo) patients reported treatment-emergent adverse events; none were serious, or led to treatment discontinuation. Interpretation: Although treatment with AXA1125 did not improve the primary endpoint (τPCr-measure of mitochondrial respiration), when compared to placebo, there was a significant improvement in fatigue-based symptoms among patients living with Long COVID following a four week treatment period. Further multicentre studies are needed to validate our findings in a larger cohort of patients with fatigue-dominant Long COVID. Funding: Axcella Therapeutics.