An Open-Label Proof of Consent Study of Vorinostat for the Treatment of Mdoerate-to-Severe Crohn s Disease and Maintenance Therapy With Ustekinumab

  • End date
    Jun 30, 2022
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Updated on 23 July 2021
antibiotic therapy
immunosuppressive agents
abdominal pain
tumor necrosis factor
maintenance treatment
inflammatory bowel disease
crohn's disease
tumor necrosis factor alpha
certolizumab pegol



Crohn s disease (CD) is an inflammatory bowel disease. It causes inflammation of the gut. Symptoms may include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. CD has no cure, but symptoms can sometimes be controlled with medicine. Researchers want to see if it is safe to treat CD with the medicine vorinostat. It is thought that vorinostat may reduce the inflammation process of CD. This may then help to relieve symptoms of CD. Participants who respond to Vorinostat will be invited to an extension phase of treatment with Vorinostat and possibly a maintenance treatment using Ustekinumab.


To see if vorinostat is safe for people with moderate-to-severe CD. To see if it is safe for people with moderate-to-sever CD to receive maintenance therapy using Ustekinumab after successful treatment of Vorinostat.


Adults 18-65 with moderate-to-severe CD that medicine is not controlling.


Phase I is screening. It may last 120 days. Participants will have:

Physical exam

Medical history

Tests of blood, urine, and stool samples

Heart test


Tuberculosis skin test

They may have a colonoscopy and lymphapheresis collection. These will be explained in a separate consent.

They will keep a diary of symptoms.

Phase II is treatment using Vorinostat. It will take 12-13 weeks. Participants will take the study drug by mouth twice daily for 12 weeks. They will get a weekly phone call to talk about how the drug makes them feel. They will have blood taken regularly. Every 4 weeks, they will have a check-up that will repeat some screening tests.

Phase III extension treatment of Vorinostat for an additional 6 months for those who respond to vorinostat and it is safe for them to continue treatment. Participants will continue to receive weekly calls to talk about how the drug makes them feel. They will have blood taken regularly. Every 3 months, they will have a check-up that will repeat some screening tests.

Phase IV: is maintenance therapy for 2 years with Ustekinumab. Participants will receive a one time loading dose of ustekinumab, and then will receive the approved maintenance dose once every 8 weeks, at which time they will return to the NIH Clinical Center for evaluation. The participant will get a phone call 3 days after each dose and again 2 weeks later to see how the drug makes them feel. After two years of receiving treatment with ustekinumab the participant will have an end of study visit, where some of the screening tests, including a colonoscopy, will be repeated.


Crohn s Disease (CD), a major sub-type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), is a chronic, life-long condition characterized by relapsing inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Despite recent advances in IBD therapeutics, a significant number of patients with CD continue to have significant symptoms.

In prior studies, it has been demonstrated that epigenetic modifications of the genome are associated with and may contribute to the pathogenesis of various disease entities. One type of epigenetic modification involves acetylation and deacetylation of histones, mediated by histone acetyl transferases (HATs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs). Acetylation and deacetylation of histones regulates the affinity of histones for DNA, thus modulating the accessibility of transcription factors to gene promoters and enhancer sites. Of interest in this context is evidence that epigenetic modifications brought about by HDAC inhibitors (HDACi), i.e., agents that cause hyperacetylation of histones, can limit the course of gastrointestinal inflammation. One naturally occurring HDAC inhibitor, the bacterial product butyrate, has been shown to have effects on gene transcription that regulate potentially deleterious pro-inflammatory responses to microbiota in the gut environment. It has been shown that treatment of dendritic cells and macrophages with butyrate leads to down-regulation of lipopolysaccharide induced pro-inflammatory mediators such as nitric oxide, IL-6 and IL-12. In addition, butyrate has been shown to enhance the differentiation of intestinal Foxp3-positive T cells (T regulatory T cell (Treg) development that then modulates GI inflammation and contributes to mucosal homeostasis. Along the same lines, another HDAC inhibitor, vorinostat, has been shown to ameliorate graft-vs-host disease (GVHD) affecting the GI tract in patients undergoing allogeneic bone marrow transplantation. This anti-inflammatory effect was also attributable to increased Treg activity, suggesting that vorinostat, like butyrate, decreases inflammation by enhancing the activity of cells with the capacity to down- regulate immune responses. The effect of vorinostat on Treg cell expansion in this study was particularly notable because it suggested that Treg cell numbers can be increased by agents that have an intrinsic effect on the transcription of key Treg cell transcription factors. On this basis, treatment of patients with inflammatory and autoimmune diseases by influencing Treg cell numbers may be a more effective than alternative existing methods of inducing Treg cell expansion such as administration of purified Tregs.

In this protocol we propose a proof of concept clinical trial to study the safety and efficacy of vorinostat (100 mg PO BID for 36 weeks) in treating 20 individuals with moderate-to- severe CD who have not been controlled by standard maintenance therapy. This will be accomplished in Phase II (12 weeks of treatment) and Phase III (36 weeks of treatment). We will assess the effectiveness of vorinostat by evaluating changes in symptom scores, endoscopic/histologic findings, and immunologic/laboratory parameters. The participant will return to the NIH CC after starting treatment on week 4, week 8, and week 24 for assessment of safety labs and testing of clinical response. On Week 12 and week 36 participants will return to the NIH CC for assessment of safety labs and testing of clinical and immunologic response.

In Crohn s disease most patients have alternating periods of relapse and remission with half of patients requiring surgery within 10 years of diagnosis on present maintenance therapy. Therefore, the approach to treatment must also evolve from induction control of symptoms to preventing progression of the disease with maintenance therapy. Thus, treatments that safely maintain long-term remission are essential. Treatment guidelines for Crohn s disease recommend maintenance therapy after remission is achieved, particularly for moderate- to-high risk patients. Potential benefits include reduction in hospitalization and surgery and improved quality of life. Long-term efficacy has been studied with azathioprine/mercaptopurine, methotrexate, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists, and vedolizumab. Although TNF antagonists have significantly advanced the care of Crohn s disease, their efficacy is limited and the development of anti-drug antibodies is associated with loss of response in maintenance therapy. In addition, potential significant side effects of maintenance treatments include bone marrow suppression malignancy and serious infections. Therefore, a need exists for safer agents that have demonstrated improved long-term maintenance efficacy.

The gut inflammation complicating Crohn s disease has been characterized as a T helper type 1 (Th1)/T helper type 17 (Th17) inflammatory response, with excess IL-12, IL-23 cytokine production leading to the generation of excessive IFN-g and IL-17. Ustekinumab, a monoclonal antibody to the p40 subunit of IL-12 and IL-23, is currently FDA approved for the treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, active psoriatic arthritis, and moderately to severely active CD.

Prior clinical trials have demonstrated long-term efficacy and safety profile of ustekinumab in psoriasis. Similarly, the long-term efficacy and safety of ustekinumab in Crohn s disease dosing had been established in the UNITI trial studies (up to 44 week treatment) in patients who have failed TNF antagonists or other conventional therapies. These studies demonstrated significant response rates and induction of remission rates with a positive safety profile. Studies addressing long term maintenance efficacy of ustekinumab in patients that are in remission have not been performed.

In the present protocol (Phase IV), Crohn s disease patients that have achieved either a defined clinical response or are in remission with vorinostat will then be enrolled to receive long term maintenance treatment with ustekinumab. Participants will receive a weightbased IV loading dose of ustekinumab followed by administration of maintenance doses of 90 mg subcutaneously (SC) every 8 weeks with participants followed over a 2-year period.

Condition Inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's Disease, Crohn's Disease (Pediatric), crohns disease
Treatment Vorinostat, ustekinumab
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03167437
SponsorNational Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Last Modified on23 July 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Are 18 to 65 years of age, inclusive, at enrollment date
Have a diagnosis of CD that has been endoscopically or radiographically confirmed. A colonoscopy will be required at baseline to document mucosal disease activity. SES-CD will be obtained with minimum score of 7
Have active CD symptoms as defined by a CDAI score between 220 and 350 and demonstrate active symptoms as defined by continued weight loss, abdominal pain and/or diarrhea not controlled by standard therapy
The participant must have active CD symptoms and therefore have had an inadequate response to, loss of response to, or intolerance to at least 1 of the following agent groups in control of their disease (as defined below for each individual agent group: Corticosteroids or Immunomodulators or TNF-alpha sign antagonists or Anti-integrin antibodies)
Signs and symptoms of persistently active disease despite a history of at least one 4-week induction regimen that included a dose
equivalent to prednisone greater than or equal to 30 mg PO once daily (QD) for
weeks or intravenously (IV) for 1 week OR
ii. One failed attempt to taper corticosteroids to below a dose equivalent to
prednisone 10 mg PO QD or to taper to below a dose
of 9 mg of budesonide OR
iii. History of intolerance of corticosteroids at the discretion of the
principal investigator (PI) (including but not limited to Cushing s
syndrome, osteopenia/osteoporosis, hyperglycemia, insomnia, or infection)
b. Immunomodulators
i. Signs and symptoms of persistently active disease despite a history of at
least one 12-week regimen of oral azathioprine (AZA) (greater than or equal to
5 mg/kg/Day) or 6-MP (greater than or equal to 1.5 mg/kg/Day) OR
ii. Signs and symptoms of persistently active disease despite a history of at
least one 12-week regimen of MTX (greater than or equal to 25 mg/week) OR
iii. History of intolerance of at least one immunomodulator (including but not
limited to nausea/vomiting leading to discontinuation
abdominal pain, pancreatitis, liver function test abnormalities, lymphopenia
thiopurine methyltransferase genetic mutation, or
serious infection)
c. TNF-alpha sign antagonists with signs and symptoms of persistently active
disease despite a history of receiving infliximab, adalimumab, or certolizumab
at a dose approved for the treatment of CD and
i. Patient had an inadequate response after completing the full induction
regimen, per approved product labeling
ii. Responded initially but then lost response with continued therapy
iii. Patient had a significant adverse event response which precluded further
use including but not exclusion of infusion reaction, serum
sickness and/or lupus-like rash
d. Anti-integrin antibodies: with signs and symptoms of persistently active
disease despite a history of receiving an anti-integrin antibody agent
(natalizumab or vedolizumab) at a dose approved for the treatment of CD and
i. Patient had an inadequate response after completing the full induction
regimen, per approved product labeling
ii. Responded initially but then lost response with continued therapy
iii. Patient had a significant adverse event response which precluded further
use including but not exclusion of infusion reaction, serum
sickness and/or lupus-like reaction
\. At the discretion of the PI, concomitant medications will be permitted if
the following conditions are met prior to baseline assessment (Day-1)
5-aminosalicylic acid (ASA)-based compounds are permissible if
Oral 5-ASA-based compounds must be at a stable dose for at least 3 weeks prior to baseline or
ii. Recently discontinued oral 5-ASA-based compounds must have been
discontinued at least 3 weeks prior to baseline or
iii. Rectal 5-ASA-based compounds are not permissible during the study and
must have been discontinued at least 3 weeks prior to baseline
b. Corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone, budesonide) are permissible if
i. Oral corticosteroids must be at a prednisone-equivalent dose of less than
or equal to 40 mg/day, or 9 mg/day of budesonide, and have been at a stable
dose for at least 3 weeks prior to baseline or
ii. Discontinuation of oral corticosteroids must have been completed at least
weeks prior to baseline or
iii. Parenteral (subcutaneous, intramuscular, or IV) or rectal corticosteroids
are not permitted during the study and must not have been used within a 3-week
period prior to baseline
c. CD-specific antibiotics are permissible if using an antibiotic for
treatment of CD ( a CD-specific antibiotic i.e., metronidazole, ciprofloxacin
rifaximin, ampicillin, sulfonamide and tetracycline)
i. Participants must have been using the antibiotic for at least 3 weeks
before baseline at a stable dose or
ii. If not currently using a CD-specific antibiotic, the stop date must have
been at least 3 weeks prior to baseline
d. Immunomodulators are permissible if
i. Participants receiving chronic (i.e., greater than or equal to 12 weeks)
treatment with AZA, 6-MP, or MTX prior to baseline must be on a stable dose
for at least 6- 8 weeks prior to baseline and must continue on this same dose
during the study. OR
ii. Participants who have discontinued therapy with AZA, 6-MP, or MTX must
have stopped the medication at least 4 weeks prior to baseline. OR
iii. Participants must not have received therapy with other known
immunomodulators (e.g., cyclosporine, tacrolimus, sirolimus, pentoxifylline
or mycophenolate mofetil) or experimental agents (e.g., granulocyte- or
macrophage colony stimulating factor) for at least
weeks or 5 half-lives of agent from baseline, whichever is longer
e. The use of Anti-TNF and Anti-integrin therapy or other biological therapy
listed below will not be permitted and the following washout period will be
required in order for participant to be eligible
i. Three months washout prior to baseline for certolizumab or natalizumab
ii. Two months washout prior to baseline for adalimumab, infliximab, and
iii. 8 week washout prior to baseline for cyclosporine, pimecrolimus
tacrolimus, and any other systemic immunosuppressant
\. Participants must agree to have samples of their blood and tissue stored
for potential future research use
\. Participants must have a primary medical care provider
\. Male participants must agree to employ birth control measures to prevent
pregnancy in female partners from start of treatment, and continuing through 3
months post treatment
\. Females of childbearing potential must not be breast-feeding, possibly or
actually pregnant, must not have had unprotected intercourse for one month
prior to dosing, and must agree not to become pregnant beginning from
enrollment in the study to at least 6 months after the end of treatment
Participants must remain completely abstinent of potentially reproductive
sexual intercourse (e.g. due to a committed lifestyle) or to consistently use
BOTH a barrier method with a spermicide (male or female condom) AND ALSO one
of the below listed methods of birth control
Continuous/daily hormonal methods including oral contraceptive pills, patch, implant/injection, etc
Surgical sterilization of either partner, of sufficient duration to be effective, and NOT known to have failed
Intrauterine device

Exclusion Criteria

Presence of clinically significant systemic infection (e.g., chronic or acute infection, urinary tract infection, or upper respiratory tract infection) within three months of screening
History or presence of recurrent or chronic infection (e.g., viral infection [including hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)], bacterial infection, systemic fungal infection, or syphilis)
Positive for tuberculosis (TB) via QuantiFERON-Gold (QFT-G). Individuals who are known to have received the tuberculosis vaccine will be administered the QFT- G. Patients can not have received tuberculosis vaccine within 12 months prior to start of study and can not receive tuberculosis vaccine while on study or within 12 months from the time of conclusion of study participation
A conduction abnormality on baseline electrocardiogram (ECG) that in the opinion of a cardiologist, is deemed significant
Has a history of active tuberculosis (TB) or a chest x-ray (CXR) with findings suggestive of old TB infection including calcified nodular lesions, apical fibrosis, or pleural scarring), acute or chronic HBV, HCV, HIV, or opportunistic infections
Presence of abnormal hematological and biochemical parameters, including
At the discretion of the principal investigator, off-label use of any small molecule therapeutics that are immune modulators (e.g., naltrexone) within 90 days of beginning screening or at any time during the 30 days of the screening window
Neutrophil count < 1500 cells/mm3
Hemoglobin < 9 g/dL
Platelet count less than or equal to 150,000 cells/mm3
Creatinine greater than or equal to 1.2 times the upper limit of normal (ULN)
Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and/or aspartate aminotransferase (AST) greater than or equal to 1.5 times ULN
Prothrombin time-international normalized ratio (PT-INR) > 1.0 ULN
Serum bilirubin level > 1.0 times ULN
Individuals on chronic anticoagulation medications
Presence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection as defined by positive immunohistochemical staining on tissue intestine biopsy
Stool sample positive for GI pathogens potentially causing disease (as assessed by FilmArray GI panel for 22 viral, bacterial, and parasitic organisms that can cause infectious diarrhea [GI pathogen panel]). The principal investigator will consult with an infectious disease specialist to review results and decide whether treatment is warranted
History of low-grade or high-grade colonic mucosal dysplasia
History of bowel surgery other than perianal (e.g., fistulotomy, seton placement, or abscess drainage) within 6 months prior to beginning the CDAI screening diary or drawing screening blood samples
Presence of surgical changes to gut anatomy that preclude administration of clinical activity indices; this includes but is not limited to ileostomy, colostomy, or subtotal colectomy with ileorectal anastomosis
Known or suspected short bowel syndrome
Requirement of parenteral, total parenteral, elemental oral, or nasogastric nutrition
Unwillingness or inability to comply with study requirements
History or current evidence of cancer, other than non-melanomatous cancer of the skin, or participants that have undergone excision of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. All patients receiving ustekinumab will be monitored for the appearance of non-melanoma skin cancer. Patients greater than 60 years of age, those with a medical history of prolonged immunosuppressant therapy and those with a history of PUVA treatment will be followed closely
Presence of only small bowel CD that is inaccessible by standard colonoscopy for harvest of research biopsies. Individuals with only upper gastrointestinal CD or only perianal fistulizing CD are also excluded for this reason
Refusal to abstain from using COX-2 inhibitors or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) throughout the study agent administration period
Has uncontrolled diabetes
Is taking anti-seizure medication, such as valproic acid or its derivative (i.e., Depakote)
Has participated in another investigational trial within 8 weeks (or 5 half-lives of any investigational study agent), whichever is greater, prior to the pre-trial (screening) visit. The window will be derived from the last date of treatment on the previous trial
Presence of any condition that, in the opinion of the principal investigator, contraindicates participation in this study
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