Core protocol development for phase 2/3 clinical trials in the leukodystrophy vanishing white matter: a consensus statement by the VWM consortium and patient advocates

Dr. Brent L. Fogel, MD, PhD


Background: The leukodystrophy "Vanishing White Matter" (VWM) is an orphan disease with neurological decline and high mortality. Currently, VWM has no approved treatments, but advances in understanding pathophysiology have led to identification of promising therapies. Several investigational medicinal products are either in or about to enter clinical trial phase. Clinical trials in VWM pose serious challenges, as VWM has an episodic disease course; disease phenotype is highly heterogeneous and predictable only for early onset; and study power is limited by the small patient numbers. To address these challenges and accelerate therapy delivery, the VWM Consortium, a group of academic clinicians with expertise in VWM, decided to develop a core protocol to function as a template for trials, to improve trial design and facilitate sharing of control data, while permitting flexibility regarding other trial details. Overall aims of the core protocol are to collect safety, tolerability, and efficacy data for treatment assessment and marketing authorization.

Methods: To develop the core protocol, the VWM Consortium designated a committee, including clinician members of the VWM Consortium, family and patient group advocates, and experts in statistics, clinical trial design and alliancing with industries. We drafted three age-specific protocols, to stratify into more homogeneous patient groups, of ages ≥ 18 years, ≥ 6 to < 18 years and < 6 years. We chose double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled design for patients aged ≥ 6 years; and open-label non-randomized natural-history-controlled design for patients < 6 years. The protocol describes study populations, age-specific endpoints, inclusion and exclusion criteria, study schedules, sample size determinations, and statistical considerations.

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