Glycerol phenylbutyrate is under development for treatment of urea cycle disorders (UCDs), rare inherited metabolic disorders manifested by hyperammonemia and neurological impairment. We report the results of a pivotal Phase 3, randomized, double-blind, crossover trial comparing ammonia control, assessed as 24-hour area under the curve (NH3-AUC0-24hr), and pharmacokinetics during treatment with glycerol phenylbutyrate versus sodium phenylbutyrate (NaPBA) in adult UCD patients and the combined results of four studies involving short- and long-term glycerol phenylbutyrate treatment of UCD patients ages 6 and above. Glycerol phenylbutyrate was noninferior to NaPBA with respect to ammonia control in the pivotal study, with mean (standard deviation, SD) NH3-AUC0-24hr of 866 (661) versus 977 (865) μmol·h/L for glycerol phenylbutyrate and NaPBA, respectively. Among 65 adult and pediatric patients completing three similarly designed short-term comparisons of glycerol phenylbutyrate versus NaPBA, NH3-AUC0-24hr was directionally lower on glycerol phenylbutyrate in each study, similar among all subgroups, and significantly lower (P < 0.05) in the pooled analysis, as was plasma glutamine. The 24-hour ammonia profiles were consistent with the slow-release behavior of glycerol phenylbutyrate and better overnight ammonia control. During 12 months of open-label glycerol phenylbutyrate treatment, average ammonia was normal in adult and pediatric patients and executive function among pediatric patients, including behavioral regulation, goal setting, planning, and self-monitoring, was significantly improved. Conclusion: Glycerol phenylbutyrate exhibits favorable pharmacokinetics and ammonia control relative to NaPBA in UCD patients, and long-term glycerol phenylbutyrate treatment in pediatric UCD patients was associated with improved executive function (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00551200, NCT00947544, NCT00992459, NCT00947297).
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