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Mechanistic Investigations Support Liver Safety of Ubrogepant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Brenda Smith, Josh Rowe, Paul B. Watkins, Messoud Ashina, Jeffrey L. Woodhead, Frank D. Sistare, Peter J. Goadsby

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-93
Number of pages10
JournalToxicological sciences : an official journal of the Society of Toxicology
Issue number1
Published1 Sep 2020

King's Authors


Small-molecule calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor antagonists have demonstrated therapeutic efficacy for the treatment of migraine. However, previously investigated CGRP receptor antagonists, telcagepant and MK-3207, were discontinued during clinical development because of concerns about drug-induced liver injury. A subsequent effort to identify novel CGRP receptor antagonists less likely to cause hepatotoxicity led to the development of ubrogepant. The selection of ubrogepant, following a series of mechanistic studies conducted with MK-3207 and telcagepant, was focused on key structural modifications suggesting that ubrogepant was less prone to forming reactive metabolites than previous compounds. The potential for each drug to cause liver toxicity was subsequently assessed using a quantitative systems toxicology approach (DILIsym) that incorporates quantitative assessments of mitochondrial dysfunction, disruption of bile acid homeostasis, and oxidative stress, along with estimates of dose-dependent drug exposure to and within liver cells. DILIsym successfully modeled liver toxicity for telcagepant and MK-3207 at the dosing regimens used in clinical trials. In contrast, DILIsym predicted no hepatotoxicity during treatment with ubrogepant, even at daily doses up to 1000 mg (10-fold higher than the approved clinical dose of 100 mg). These predictions are consistent with clinical trial experience showing that ubrogepant has lower potential to cause hepatotoxicity than has been observed with telcagepant and MK-3207.

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