Deferasirox (Exjade)-AmBisome Therapy for Mucormycosis (DEFEAT Mucor)

Investigator: Peter Chin-Hong, MD
Sponsor: Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute

Location(s): United States


The purpose of this study is to determine if the addition of the medication, deferasirox, to standard antifungal therapy for the infection, mucormycosis, is safe and effective. Mucormycosis (also called zygomycosis) is a rare infection caused by organisms that belong to a group of fungi called Mucoromycotina in the order Mucorales.  These fungi are typically found in the soil and in association with decaying organic matter, such as leaves, compost piles, or rotten wood.

Because of its extremely high morbidity and mortality, it is imperative to look for new antifungal therapies to treat mucormycosis. The agents of mucormycosis are exquisitely sensitive to iron availability, and we and others have demonstrated that iron chelation therapy improves the survival of rodents with mucormycosis. Deferasirox (Exjade) is the first orally bioavailable iron chelator approved for use in the United States (US) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with an indication for treatment of iron overload from chronic transfusions. In clinical studies, deferasirox has been well tolerated and effective in iron-overloaded patients.

Although the safety and efficacy of deferasirox have been extensively evaluated in iron-overloaded patients, there are minimal data in non-iron-overloaded patients or in infected patients. Therefore, the safety and efficacy of deferasirox in patients with mucormycosis is unclear, and confirming safety in the current study, at the currently planned dose, is required to lay the groundwork for a future phase III clinical trial.

This is a prospective, phase II, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study of liposomal amphotericin B (LAmB; AmBisome) plus deferasirox vs. LAmB plus placebo for mucormycosis infection. Twenty patients with proven or probable mucormycosis (except for isolated skin infection) by consensus EORTC/MSG criteria, who have received less than 14 days of antifungal therapy for mucormycosis, and who have had radiographic imaging by CT or MRI within the past 72 hours that shows evidence of infection, will be randomized to receive LAmB plus deferasirox or placebo (n = 10 per arm), with randomization stratified by study site.

The primary objective is to determine the safety and tolerability of adjunctive deferasirox therapy in patients being treated with LAmB for mucormycosis, and to obtain exploratory data on the efficacy of the iron chelation treatment. The exploratory efficacy endpoint will be the global response rate (composite of clinical and radiographic response) at end of study drug administration, as determined by a blinded adjudication committee.