Efficacy and safety of the muscarinic receptor agonist KarXT (xanomeline–trospium) in schizophrenia (EMERGENT-2) in the USA: results from a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, flexible-dose phase 3 trial

Inder Kaul, Sharon Sawchak, Christoph U. Correll, Rishi Kakar, Alan Breier, Haiyuan Zhu, Andrew C. Miller, Steven M. Paul, Stephen K. Brannan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: New treatments with new mechanisms are urgently needed for people with schizophrenia. Xanomeline is a dual M1 and M4-preferring muscarinic receptor agonist that does not block D2 dopamine receptors, unlike all currently approved treatments for schizophrenia. Xanomeline–trospium (KarXT) combines xanomeline with the peripherally restricted muscarinic receptor antagonist trospium chloride with the goal of ameliorating xanomeline-related adverse events associated with peripheral muscarinic receptors. The EMERGENT-2 trial aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of KarXT in people with schizophrenia experiencing acute psychosis. Methods: EMERGENT-2 was a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, flexible-dose, 5-week, inpatient, phase 3 trial in people with schizophrenia. Participants were adults aged 18–65 years with a diagnosis of schizophrenia who had a recent worsening of psychosis warranting hospital admission, a Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) score of 80 or higher, and a Clinical Global Impression-Severity score of 4 or higher. The participants were recruited from 22 inpatient sites in the USA, and were randomly assigned (1:1) to KarXT or placebo twice per day. Participants randomly assigned to KarXT received 50 mg xanomeline and 20 mg trospium twice per day for the first 2 days and then 100 mg xanomeline and 20 mg trospium twice per day for days 3–7. Beginning on day 8, KarXT dosing was flexible with an optional increase to 125 mg xanomeline and 30 mg trospium twice per day and the option to return to 100 mg xanomeline and 20 mg trospium based on tolerability. The primary endpoint was change from baseline to week 5 in PANSS total score. Efficacy analyses used the modified intention-to-treat population (all randomly assigned participants who received at least one trial medication dose and had at least one post-baseline PANSS assessment). Least squares mean change from baseline, SE, and least squares mean difference between the KarXT and placebo groups at week 5, along with the 95% CI and two-sided p values were calculated for the primary and secondary continuous efficacy endpoints. Safety analyses included all participants receiving at least one trial medication dose and used descriptive statistics. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT04659161). Findings: From Dec 16, 2020, to April 13, 2022, of 407 people who were screened, 252 participants meeting enrolment criteria were randomly assigned to the KarXT (n=126) or placebo (n=126). Baseline PANSS total scores were 98·3 (KarXT; n=126) and 97·9 (placebo; n=125). The trial met the primary endpoint with a mean change from baseline to week 5 in PANSS total score that favoured KarXT (–21·2 points, SE 1·7) versus placebo (–11·6 points, 1·6; least squares mean difference –9·6; 95% CI –13·9 to –5·2; p<0·0001, Cohen's d effect size=0·61). All secondary endpoints were also met, and favoured KarXT versus placebo (p<0·05). The most common adverse events with KarXT versus placebo were constipation (27 [21%] vs 13 [10%]), dyspepsia (24 [19%] vs 10 [8%]), headache (17 [14%] vs 15 [12%]), nausea (24 [19%] vs seven [6%]), vomiting (18 [14%] vs one [1%]), hypertension (12 [10%] vs one [1%]), dizziness (11 [9%] vs four [3%]), gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (eight [6%] vs zero [0%]), and diarrhoea (seven [6%] vs four [3%]). Treatment-emergent adverse event rates of extrapyramidal motor symptoms (KarXT, zero [0%] vs placebo, zero [0%]), akathisia (one [1%] vs one [1%]), weight gain (zero [0%] vs one [1%]), and somnolence (six [5%] vs five [4%]) were similar between the KarXT and placebo groups, as were adverse event-related discontinuation rates (nine [7%] vs seven [6%]). Interpretation: In the EMERGENT-2 trial, KarXT was effective in reducing positive and negative symptoms and was generally well tolerated. These results support the potential for KarXT to represent a new class of effective and well tolerated antipsychotic medicines based on activating muscarinic receptors, not the D2 dopamine receptor-blocking mechanism of all current antipsychotic medications. Results from additional trials, including the identical EMERGENT-3 trial and the 52-week, open-label EMERGENT-4 and EMERGENT-5 trials, will provide additional information on the efficacy and safety of KarXT in people with schizophrenia. Funding: Karuna Therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-170
Number of pages11
JournalThe Lancet
Volume403
Issue number10422
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 13 2024

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