1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methods
  5. Results
  6. Discussion
  7. Acknowledgements
  8. References
  9. Supporting Information

Treatment options for patients suffering from indolent forms of mastocytosis remain inadequate with the hyperactivation of mast cells responsible for many of the disease's systemic manifestations. Masitinib is a potent and highly selective oral tyrosine kinase inhibitor. A combined inhibition of c-Kit and Lyn make it particularly efficient in controlling the activity of mast cells and therefore, of potential therapeutic benefit in mastocytosis. Masitinib was administered to 25 patients diagnosed as having systemic or cutaneous mastocytosis with related handicap (i.e., disabilities associated with flushes, depression, pruritus and quality-of-life) at the initial dose levels of 3 or 6 mg/kg/day over 12 weeks. In accordance with the AFIRMM study, response was based upon change of clinical symptoms associated with patient handicap at week 12 relative to baseline, regardless of disease subtype. Improvement was observed in all primary endpoints at week 12 including a reduction of flushes, Hamilton rating, and pruritus as compared with baseline by 64% (P = 0.0005), 43% (P = 0.0049), and 36% (P = 0.0077), respectively. An overall clinical response was observed in 14/25 patients (56%; [95%CI = 37%−75%]), with sustainable improvement observed throughout an extension phase (>60 weeks). Common adverse events were edema (44%), nausea (44%), muscle spasms (28%), and rash (28%), the majority of which were of mild or moderate severity with a significant decline in frequency observed after 12 weeks of treatment. One patient experienced a serious adverse event of reversible agranulocytosis. Masitinib is a promising treatment for indolent forms of mastocytosis with handicap and indicates acceptable tolerability for long-term treatment regimens. Am. J. Hematol. 85:921–925, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methods
  5. Results
  6. Discussion
  7. Acknowledgements
  8. References
  9. Supporting Information

In the majority of cases (>90%) mastocytosis presents as an indolent disease, in which the constitutive activation of mast cells (MC) and release of their mediators is responsible for many of the disease's systemic manifestations [1]. Although typically not a life threatening disease, indolent forms of mastocytosis are associated with significant disability in more than 60% of patients [2]. As such, it can have a profoundly negative impact on quality-of-life with many of the symptoms and their associated disabilities remaining unrecognised for several years, even following diagnosis. Moreover, there exists a general consensus that current treatment options for patients suffering from indolent forms of mastocytosis remain inadequate [3, 4].

Key findings from AFIRMM's (Association Française pour les Initiatives de Recherche sur le Mastocyte et les Mastocytoses) comprehensive study of disability in mastocytosis patients included: (a) mastocytosis subtypes of cutaneous, indolent systemic, systemic with an associated hematologic clonal, nonmast cell lineage disease, and smouldering systemic mastocytosis, are not distinct diseases but part of a continuous spectrum of mast cell-related dysfunctions; (b) the level of MC activation and systemic release of mediators is of principal importance, rather than their presence per se; (c) for the purposes of treatment, mastocytosis should be classified as either MC leukemia or aggressive mastocytosis that absolutely required a cytoreductive treatment, or alternatively as indolent mastocytosis (IM), which can be further subcategorized and treated according to the severity of a patient's handicap [2].

Stem cell factor (SCF), the ligand of the c-Kit tyrosine kinase receptor, is an important growth factor for MC survival, proliferation, differentiation, and degranulation processes [5]. Thus, in physiology SCF-dependent activation of c-Kit is critical for MC homeostasis and function. Likewise, deregulated activity of the SCF/c-Kit pathway in mastocytosis is related to mutations in the c-Kit receptor [6, 7], with up to 90% of patients carrying the c-Kit D816V mutation in the phosphotransferase domain of c-Kit, and the remainder carrying mutations in other domains of the molecule [8, 9].

Masitinib mesilate is an oral tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) that potently and selectively targets c-Kit and PDGFR-α/β [10]. Moreover, those kinases or receptors attributed to possible TKI cardiac toxicity (e.g., ABL, KDR, and Src) [11–13], are not inhibited at therapeutic doses of masitinib, implying that it may exhibit a better safety profile than other TKIs [10]. Additional important target kinases of masitinib are Lyn and Fyn, key components of the transduction pathway leading to mast cell IgE induced degranulation [14]. In-vitro assessment shows masitinib (10 μM) to inhibit the FcεRI-mediated degranulation of human cord-blood-derived MCs by 35% [10]. Hence, by merit of a combined targeting of c-Kit, Lyn and Fyn, masitinib is particularly efficient in controlling the proliferation, differentiation and degranulation of MCs and indirectly therefore, the array of mediators they release.

The objective of this study was to assess the response and safety of masitinib for treatment of IM with handicap, in patients for whom the D816V mutation was absent from at least one affected organ. This latter condition was intended to help ensure any beneficial treatment-response was measurable in this proof-of-concept study, because masitinib and other TKIs typically exhibit a poor activity against the D816V mutation.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methods
  5. Results
  6. Discussion
  7. Acknowledgements
  8. References
  9. Supporting Information

Study design.

This was a phase 2a, multicenter, open-label trial over 12-weeks, with an extension phase possible for those patients experiencing improvement. To evaluate the dose response of masitinib in IM with handicap, dose ranging was performed by randomly assigning patients (1:1 ratio) into initial treatment groups of 3 or 6 mg/kg/day. Masitinib, supplied as 100 and 200 mg tablets (AB Science, France), was administered orally in two daily intakes. Dose adjustments of 1.5 mg/kg/day were permitted, with the dosage being incremented in case of insufficient response accompanied by minimal toxicity (mild/moderate) at weeks 4 and 8. In the event of severe toxicity, masitinib was temporarily interrupted and then resumed at the same dosage upon recovery. If toxicity persisted, treatment was interrupted until the adverse event (AE) was resolved, followed by a reduction in masitinib dosage or treatment discontinuation. This study was approved by the institutional review board at Hôpital Necker and complied with the Declaration of Helsinki. Written informed consent was obtained from all patients. The study was registered in clinical (NCT00831974).

Eligible patients were aged >18 years, had previously documented indolent systemic, smouldering systemic or cutaneous mastocytosis as per the World Health Organization classification with associated disability as the result of MC released mediators and had not responded to usual symptomatic treatments for more than 6 months. Additionally, because masitinib exhibits a poor activity against D816V mutations, patients must have presented with at least one histologically proven infiltrated organ, (i.e., skin or bone marrow), in which the D816V mutation was absent or below the threshold of detection. A single occurrence of this criterion was deemed sufficient for inclusion and so no systematic examination of multiple organs was carried out specifically for this study. This mutation status did not constitute part of the patient's diagnosis but was rather a confirmatory test that the patient population could be better expected to show a response to treatment in this proof-of-concept study.

Patients were classified as having a handicap if after appropriate symptomatic treatments they fulfilled at least one of the following a priori criteria: number of flushes/day ≥1; pruritus score ≥6; number of stools ≥4/day; micturition frequency ≥8/day; Hamilton rating for depression ≥10; or EORTC quality-of-life questionnaire (QLQ-C30) symptom score, functional score, and global health status of >0. Patients were excluded if they experienced inadequate organ function defined via blood test levels, or had an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status >2. Other exclusion criteria included: life expectancy <6 months, severe or uncontrolled medical disease, and patients who were pregnant or nursing.

Response and safety assessment.

In accordance to the AFIRMM study [2], evaluation of treatment response was based upon the change of clinical symptoms associated with a patient's handicaps at week 12 (W12) relative to baseline. Primary endpoints were daily frequency of flushes; pruritus score; and Hamilton rating for depression [15, 16] as well as, daily stool and micturition frequencies; QLQ-C30 global health status, functional, and symptom scores [17]. For each patient, all response parameters were recorded on the first day of treatment (baseline) prior to administration of masitinib and then again after 2, 4, 8 and 12 weeks of treatment. For those patients entering the extension phase, assessments were performed every 4 weeks for the first 3 months of extension, and every 12 weeks thereafter. Secondary endpoints included the W12 assessment of AFIRMM score (a validated questionnaire assessing the self-perceived severity of mastocytosis) [2]; overall patient assessment (OPA) score [2]; tryptase levels; and change in organ MC infiltration. Determination of D816V mutation and serum tryptase levels was conducted following procedures described previously [2]. Overall clinical response analysis at W12 defined a responder as having an improvement of ≥50% in baseline handicap of a key response endpoint (Hamilton rating, flushes, or pruritus) without deterioration or emergence of handicap. Any patient with deterioration of ≥50% in any handicap, and/or with emergence of a new handicap with an increase of ≥50% from baseline was considered as worsening. Any patient who discontinued the study before W12 was considered a non responder. Discrimination between dose regimens was investigated by analyses of the “time to first response”, according to the the initial dosage, and “dose at time of first response” in key response endpoints.

Safety assessment was based upon the frequency and severity of AEs, regardless of causality, with the treating physician assessing any possible relationship to treatment. Intensity of AEs was classified as being: mild (signs and symptoms are present but without functional impact); moderate (functional impact without putting the patient's health at risk); or severe (significant functional or definitive alteration or incapacity representing a risk for the patient's health).

Statistical methods.

Response analysis was performed on subgroups of the intent-to-treat (ITT) population according to a patient's handicap at baseline and for whom response was evaluated at W12; referred to hereafter as the handicap-related population. No data imputation was implemented. The per protocol (PP) population was defined as a subset of a given handicap-related population, which in addition had presented no major protocol deviations. Summary response data are presented using descriptive statistics with mean improvement compared with baseline in each handicap cohort, regardless of disease classification. The appropriate Wilcoxon or Fisher tests were used for group comparison of baseline disease, demographic characteristics between dose level groups and response relative to baseline. Subpopulation analysis was also conducted according to initial c-Kit status.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methods
  5. Results
  6. Discussion
  7. Acknowledgements
  8. References
  9. Supporting Information

Baseline characteristics and participant flow

A total of 25 patients with varying handicap profiles were recruited from seven centers across France between January 2005 and March 2007 (see Supporting Information, Figure S1). Patients were diagnosed with smouldering (1/25), indolent systemic (17/25) or cutaneous mastocytosis (7/25); however, consistent with the AFIRMM concept that these subtypes form part of a continuous spectrum of MC-related dysfunctions, all patients were considered as a single group. Patients were randomized to receive masitinib at the initial dose of 3 mg/kg/day (N = 13) or 6 mg/kg/day (N = 12) for 12 weeks. There was no relevant difference in disease and demographic characteristics between dose level groups (P-values >0.19) except for Hamilton rating (P = 0.05). The majority of patients had a significant handicap in terms of frequency of flushes (80%), pruritus (80%) and Hamilton rating (56%); see Table I.

Table I. Demographic Profile, Clinical Baseline, Handicapa, Disposition, and Drug Exposure, According to Initial Masitinib Dosage (ITT Population)
 Parameter 3 mg/kg/day N = 13/256 mg/kg/day N = 12/25All N = 25/25
  • a

    Refer to text for handicap definitions.

  • b

    QLQ30 – Symptom score: All (N = 24); 6 mg/kg/day (N =11/25). Information on baseline characteristics of handicap-related

DemographicAge (years)Mean ± SD40.2 ± 13.346.1 ± 18.043.0 ± 15.7
Range22.0 - 59.020.0 - 76.020.0 - 76.0
Weight (kg)Mean ± SD67.9 ± 17.567.5 ± 11.568.6 ± 14.6
Range45.0 − 99.549.0 - 82.045.0 - 99.5
GenderFemale8/13 (61.5%)9/12 (75.0%)17/25 (68.0%)
ClinicalPruritusMean ± SD7.1 ± 2.47.4 ± 2.67.2 ± 2.4
Flushes (per day)Mean ± SD1.8 ± 1.62.3 ± 2.52.0 ± 2.1
Hamilton ratingMean ± SD11.2 ± 3.48.6 ± 7.310.0 ± 5.7
Stools (per day)Mean ± SD2.9 ± 2.42.6 ± 3.32.8 ± 2.8
Micturitions (per day)Mean ± SD6.7 ± 2.58.8 ± 5.97.7 ± 4.5
QLQ30 – Global health scoreMean ± SD40.4 ± 20.448.6 ± 20.444.3 ± 20.4
QLQ30 – Functional scoreMean ± SD53.7 ± 26.265.6 ± 24.059.4 ± 25.4
QLQ30 – Symptom scorebMean ± SD43.6 ± 19.934.1 ± 18.639.2 ± 19.5
OPA score0,1 (No handicap)2/13 (15.4%)3/12 (25.0%)5/25 (20.0%)
2,3,4 (Handicap)11/13 (84.6%)9/12 (75.0%)20/25 (80.0%)
AFIRMM scoreMean ± SD176.6 ± 75.2141.5 ± 92.6159.8 ± 84.1
HandicapPruritus ≥6N, %11/13 (85%)9/12 (75%)20/25 (80%)
Flushes (per day) ≥1N, %10/13 (77%)10/12 (83%)20/25 (80%)
Hamilton rating ≥10N, %11/13 (85%)3/12 (25%)14/25 (56%)
Stools (per day) ≥4N, %6/13 (46%)4/12 (33%)10/25 (40%)
Micturitions (per day) ≥8N, %4/13 (31%)6/12 (50%)10/25 (40%)
DispositionEarly study discontinuationN, %3/13 (23%)1/12 (8%)4/25 (16%)
Adverse eventN, %2/13 (15%)1/12 (8%)3/25 (12%)
Lost to follow-upN, %1/13 (8%)0/12 (0%)1/25 (4%)
Completed studyN, %10/13 (77%)11/12 (92%)21/25 (84%)
Entered extension phaseN, %8/13 (61%)9/12 (75%)17/25 (68%)
ExposureNo dose adjustmentN, %2/13 (15%)1/12 (8%)3/25 (12%)
Dose increaseN, %10/13 (77%)3/12 (25%)13/25 (52%)
Increment by 1 / 2 stepsN/N3/73/06/7
Dose decreaseN, %0/13 (0%)2/12 (17%)2/25 (8%)
Decrease by 1 / 2 stepsN/N0/02/02/0
Dose increase/decrease (±1)N, %1/13 (8%)6/12 (50%)7/25 (28%)

Twenty-two patients (88%) completed the study, with 17/25 patients (68%) entering the study's extension phase. At the cut-off date of August 31, 2008, 8/25 patients (32%) were still undergoing treatment and had received a treatment exposure >2 years. Of the 3/25 patients (12%) who withdrew prior to W12, 2/25 patients (8%) withdrew due to occurrence of AEs and one patient was considered as lost to follow-up after withdrawing their consent to participate. All but one patient (96%) fulfilled the inclusion criterion of having at least one confirmed MC infiltrated organ in which mutations of the c-Kit gene including the D816V mutation were not detectable. The remaining patient carried the D816V mutation in the bone marrow but was of unknown status in the skin (a deviation from the inclusion criterion, but this patient was retained for analyses). Breakdown of c-Kit mutation status revealed that 19/25 patients (76%), (referred to hereafter as Group 1), had no confirmed D816V mutation infiltration; while 6/25 patients (24%), (referred to hereafter as Group 2), had at least one organ with a D816V mutation infiltration, i.e. a mixed c-Kit status. Within Group 1, 8/25 patients (32%) had the wild-type c-Kit status confirmed in both skin and bone marrow, while the remaining 11/25 patients (44%) had an unknown status in one or other organ.

Response assessment

Overall, results according to a given handicap-related population and PP handicap-related population were very similar, with the former presented hereafter unless otherwise stated (Table II). Response analyses for flushes, Hamilton rating, and pruritus showed mean improvements at W12 relative to baseline of 64 ± 55% (P = 0.0005), 42 ± 30% (P = 0.0049), and 36 ± 43% (P = 0.0077), respectively. Improvement in stool and micturition frequencies were 29 ± 58% and 23 ± 30%, respectively, although both showed greater improvement in the PP population of 44 ± 63% and 39 ± 14%, respectively. Analysis of the QLQ-C30 questionnaire showed improvement in the global health status, functional score and symptom score of 51 ± 108%, 39 ± 81%, and 2.5 ± 69%, respectively. Regarding the AFIRMM global score, evaluable patients (N = 20), i.e. those for whom W12 data was available, showed an improvement of 40 ± 27%. For the OPA score, 3/20 evaluable patients (15%) who had impaired health status at baseline reported none or minimal impairment at W12. In total, 9/20 patients (45%) reported an improvement of at least one point in their OPA score, and with the exception of just 1/20 patient (5%) at one time point, no worsening of health status was reported. Assessment of overall clinical response (i.e. improvement of ≥50% in baseline Hamilton rating, flushes, or pruritus) at W12 was evident in 14/25 patients (56%; [95% CI = 37−75%]). Individually, these handicaps showed clinical response rates of 60% [95% CI = 39−81%]; 50% [95% CI = 24−76%]; and 25% [95% CI = 6−44%], respectively (Table III).

Table II. Response at Week-12 for Patients with Associated Handicap at Baseline, Including Subgroup Analysis According to Initial c-Kit Statusa
ParameterAllGroup 1Group 2
  • a

    Refer to text for handicap and c-Kit group status definitions. Each handicap-related population is a subgroup of the ITT population according to a patient's handicap at baseline and for whom response was evaluated at week 12. N = number of patients in given cohort. Δ Mean = change in population's mean handicap score compared with the corresponding population's baseline.

  • b

    OPA score (2,3,4) = impaired health status; OPA score (0,1) = none or minimal impairment.

Pruritus (N)15123
Baseline (Mean ± SD)8.1 ± 1.88.0 ± 1.88.3 ± 2.3
Δ Mean ± SD−3.0 ± 3.4−3.5 ± 3.6−1.0 ± 2.2
Relative Δ Mean ± SD−36% ± 43−42% ± 45−11% ± 27
Flushes per day (N)17134
Baseline2.5 ± 2.12.9 ± 2.31.3 ± 0.5
Δ Mean ± SD−1.7 ± 1.5−2.0 ± 1.6−0.8 ± 0.5
Relative Δ Mean ± SD−64% ± 55−64% ± 59−63% ± 48
Hamilton rating (N)12111
Baseline13.3 ± 5.013.0 ± 5.116.0
Δ Mean ± SD−5.1 ± 4.4−4.6 ± 4.3−10.0
Relative Δ Mean ± SD−42% ± 30−41% ± 31−63%
Stools per day (N)1082
Baseline5.6 ± 2.25.5 ± 2.36.0 ± 2.8
Δ Mean ± SD−1.9 ± 3.6−2.0 ± 4.0−1.5 ± 2.1
Relative Δ Mean ± SD−29% ± 58−26% ± 62−38% ± 53
Micturitions per day (N)972
Baseline11.1 ± 3.211.0 ± 3.111.5 ± 4.9
Δ Mean ± SD−3.1 ± 3.7−3.0 ± 2.8−3.5 ± 7.8
Relative Δ Mean ± SD−23% ± 30−25% ± 24−18% ± 60
QLQ-C30 Functional (N)20164
Baseline59.2 ± 26.658.0 ± 29.463.9 ± 11.4
Δ Mean ± SD8.7 ± 18.88.7 ± 21.08.6 ± 4.8
Relative Δ Mean ± SD39% ± 8145% ± 9014% ± 9
QLQ-C30 Symptom (N)18153
Baseline40.6 ± 19.838.6 ± 20.850.6 ± 11.3
Δ Mean ± SD−6.1 ± 13.6−5.4 ± 14.7−9.5 ± 6.2
Relative Δ Mean ± SD−2.5% ± 690.5% ± 75−18% ±9
QLQ-C30 Global Health (N)20164
Baseline45.8 ± 22.445.8 ± 24.945.8 ± 8.3
Δ Mean ± SD12.5 ± 24.714.1 ± 27.06.3 ± 12.5
Relative Δ Mean ± SD51% ± 10860% ± 11913% ± 25
AFIRMM (N)20164
Baseline164.6 ± 81173.3 ± 83.5130.0 ± 68.3
Δ Mean ± SD−61.5 ± 49.6−63.5 ± 52.9−53.5 ± 38.5
Relative Δ Mean ± SD−40% ± 27−40% ± 27−43% ± 29
OPA Scoreb (N)20164
Change: (2,3,4) to (0,1)3/20 (15%)3/16 (19%)0/4 (0%)
No change16/20 (80%)12/16 (75%)4/4 (100%)
Change: (0,1) to (2,3,4)1/20 (5%)1/16 (6%)0/4 (0%)
Table III. Clinical Response Rates, Defined as Improvement of ≥50% in Handicap at W12 Relative to Baseline (W0)
  1. Responder defined as having an improvement of ≥50% in baseline handicap. Overall clinical response rate (defined as improvement of ≥50% in baseline handicap of Hamilton rating, flushes, or pruritus, without deterioration or emergence of a handicap) was observed in 14/25 patients (56%; [95% CI = 37% − 75%])

Handicap (W0), N202014
No Handicap (W0), N5511
Responders (W12)5/20 (25%)12/20 (60%)7/14 (50%)
 [95% CI]6–44%39–81%24–76%
Non responders (W12)   
 Stable handicap12/20 (60%)4/20 (20%)5/14 (36%)
 Discontinued3/20 (15%)3/20 (15%)2/14 (14%)
 Worsening0/20 (0%)1/20 (5%)0/14 (0%)
 Emergent0/5 (0%)1/5 (20%)1/11 (9%)

Therapeutic effect was observed as early as week 4 in all clinical symptoms associated with IM handicap (see Supporting Information, Table SI), indicating a rapid onset of action. Considering this study's extension phase preliminary data (see Supporting Information, Table SI), the improvement achieved by W12 was maintained and even augmented for flushes, pruritus, Hamilton rating, micturition frequency, stool frequency, QLQ-C30 functional, QLQ-C30 global health status, AFIRMM and OPA scores. Such observations are indicative of masitinib's potency on these endpoints and its sustainability. In addition, subpopulation analyses with regards to initial c-Kit status (c-Kit Groups 1 and 2) revealed that masitinib displayed similar response patterns in both groups. Of the 15 patients evaluable for reduction in bone marrow MC infiltration, i.e. biopsies carried out at baseline and W12, one patient showed a reduction in bone marrow MC infiltration from 7% at baseline to 1% at W12. MC reduction in the 14 patients evaluable for skin infiltration showed 1/14 patient (7%) experienced a good partial response (≥50% reduction), 6/14 patients (43%) experienced a partial response (1% to 49% reduction), and the remaining 7/14 patients (50%) had no change. Analysis of tryptase level at W12 in the overall PP population, showed a mean reduction of 23% in patients possessing elevated tryptase (>15 ng/mL) [18] at baseline (N = 5).

Analysis of time to first response showed no clear difference between the randomized initial dosing groups. Analysis of dose at time of first response (see Supporting Information, Table SII) revealed that 76/79 first response events (96%) occurred at a dose ≤6 mg/kg/day. The next dose increment to 7.5 mg/kg/day generated only minor gains, while the lower dose level of 4.5 mg/kg/day showed a reduction in number of response events to just 48/79 (60%).

Safety assessment

At the cut-off date, 21/25 patients (84%) had reported at least one suspected masitinib-related AE during the initial 12-week phase. The most common (≥10%) treatment-related AEs are presented in Table IV, including: nausea/vomiting (52%), edema (44%), nausea (44%), muscle spasms (28%), and rash (28%). The majority of AEs experienced during the initial phase were of mild to moderate intensity. All severe AEs recovered spontaneously or with symptomatic treatments. Two treatment-related serious adverse events (SAE) were reported in one patient who experienced two episodes of agranulocytosis at a dose of 3 mg/kg/day. The first episode occurred in the fourth week of treatment and resolved within 2 weeks of drug withdrawal. Reintroduction of masitinib led to a progressive reduction of neutrophils count within 9 days, prompting an early termination of treatment. Two other patients discontinued the study early after experiencing AEs of mild to moderate intensity, i.e., a total of 3/25 patients (12%) discontinued treatment due to AEs. No deaths occurred during this study.

Table IV. Number of Subjects (%) with at Least One Suspected Adverse Event, According to Intensity
Initial phase (>10%)
System organ class/ preferred termaAll (N = 25)MildModerateSevere
  • a

    MedDRA terminology.

  • b

    AE intensity count is cumulative. AEs are recorded once only according to their start date.

At least one suspected AEb21 (84.0%)11 (44.0%)19 (76.0%)9 (36.0%)
Nausea/Vomiting13 (52.0%)6 (24.0%)8 (32.0%)1 (4.0%)
Nausea11 (44.0%)5 (20.0%)7 (28.0%)1 (4.0%)
Edema – all categories11 (44.0%)3 (12.0%)8 (32.0%)2 (8.0%)
Muscle spasms7 (28.0%)1 (4.0%)7 (28.0%)1 (4.0%)
Rash – all categories7 (28.0%) 6 (24.0%)2 (8.0%)
Asthenia6 (24.0%) 4 (16.0%)3 (12.0%)
Vomiting5 (20.0%)1 (4.0%)4 (16.0%) 
Headache5 (20.0%) 5 (20.0%) 
Abdominal pain4 (16.0%)2 (8.0%)3 (12.0%) 
Diarrhea3 (12.0%)1 (4.0%)2 (8.0%)1 (4.0%)
Eructation3 (12.0%) 2 (8.0%)1 (4.0%)
Dyspnoea3 (12.0%) 3 (12.0%) 
Extension phase (>5%)
System organ class/ preferred termAll (N = 17)MildModerateSevere
At least one suspected AE10 (58.8%)6 (35.3%)5 (29.4%)1 (5.9%)
Nausea/Vomiting3 (17.6%)2 (11.8%)1 (5.9%) 
Nausea2 (11.8%)2 (11.8%)  
Blepharitis1 (5.9%)1 (5.9%)  
Abdominal pain1 (5.9%) 1 (5.9%) 
Aphthous stomatitis1 (5.9%)  1 (5.9%)
Gingivitis1 (5.9%)1 (5.9%)  
Vomiting1 (5.9%) 1 (5.9%) 
Cytolytic hepatitis1 (5.9%) 1 (5.9%) 
Gamma-glutamyltransferase increased1 (5.9%)1 (5.9%)  
Arthralgia1 (5.9%)1 (5.9%)  
Muscle spasms1 (5.9%) 1 (5.9%) 
Dermatitis psoriasiform1 (5.9%)1 (5.9%)  
Eczema1 (5.9%) 1 (5.9%) 
Edema – all categories1 (5.9%)1 (5.9%)  

A decrease in the occurrence and severity of AEs was evident for patients entering the extension phase (Table IV). Specifically, no incidence of skin rash was reported after W12 and a reduction in the incidence of nausea/vomiting (52% versus 18%), edema (44% versus 6%), and nausea (44% versus 12%), were observed between the initial and extension phases, respectively.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methods
  5. Results
  6. Discussion
  7. Acknowledgements
  8. References
  9. Supporting Information

Results indicate that masitinib significantly reduced disability in adult patients suffering from IM with handicap during a 12-week treatment period. Overall, an improvement in quality-of-life was evidenced via the patients' reported outcomes. Only the QLQ-C30 symptom score showed a relatively modest improvement but this discrepancy may be due to interference from masitinib's gastrointestinal safety profile.

Similar response patterns were evident regardless of initial c-Kit status (Groups 1 and 2). Although this observation is not conclusive due to the limited population size of Group 2 and possible overlap between group populations, it is suggestive that a confirmed presence of the D816V mutation does not adversely affect masitinib treatment of IM with handicap. Masitinib may therefore, prove effective in treatment of IM associated with D816V mutation. A possible explanation for this observation is that masitinib's inhibitory action on Lyn/Fyn also plays a significant role in controlling MC degranulation and hence handicap, independent of the c-Kit signaling pathway and survival of MCs [14].

Although occurrence of AEs was relatively high (84%) over the first 12 weeks, the majority of these were of mild or moderate severity and in general occurred early during the course of treatment, which is consistent with the known safety profile of TKIs [19]. This trend, albeit from a relatively small population size, is evident when comparing safety data from the initial and extension phases. The implication is that while masitinib is not completely free from side-effects, the majority are manageable with appropriate symptomatic treatments and with good tolerance experienced after W12 and during any long-term treatment regimen. One patient experienced agranulocytosis, which resolved upon drug withdrawal with positive rechallenge. Myelosuppression is a known complication of other TKIs such as imatinib, which has been associated with grade 4 neutropaenia in 5% of patients [20]. Monitoring of blood cell count will therefore be necessary in phase 3 studies with masitinib.

The initial dose randomization undertaken in this study was conducted with an objective to determine optimal dosing of masitinib in IM with handicap. Based upon analyses of dose at time of first response and frequency of AEs according to dose (see Supporting Information, Tables SII and SIII, respectively), an initial dose of 6 mg/kg/day administered in two daily intakes is recommended; providing an acceptable balance between therapeutic benefit and risk.

The response of masitinib compares favorably to the limited data available on the efficacy of TKIs in the treatment of systemic mastocytosis, e.g. imatinib [21, 22]. A recent study showed that 6/11 indolent systemic mastocytosis patients reported symptomatic improvements while receiving imatinib therapy, two of whom had the D816V mutation [22]. However, response was relatively short-lived, all patients developing resistance with reoccurrence of symptoms, leading to a conclusion that imatinib therapy did not result in appreciable clinical activity in patients with D816V mutation. One possible hypothesis to explain this discrepancy with observations from our study is that by blocking Lyn, masitinib may have a better activity to inhibit MC degranulation in-vivo compared with imatinib, as has been demonstrated in-vitro [10].

Results from this proof-of-concept study should be interpreted within the restrictions of an uncontrolled phase 2a trial. Such limitations notwithstanding, data indicates that symptomatic resistant handicaps associated with IM are manageable with masitinib over a long duration of time. Confirmatory placebo-controlled clinical trials are warranted to validate these findings and to investigate the long-term efficacy and safety of masitinib.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methods
  5. Results
  6. Discussion
  7. Acknowledgements
  8. References
  9. Supporting Information

The authors would like to thank all those AB Science staff involved in this study.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methods
  5. Results
  6. Discussion
  7. Acknowledgements
  8. References
  9. Supporting Information

Supporting Information

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methods
  5. Results
  6. Discussion
  7. Acknowledgements
  8. References
  9. Supporting Information

Additional Supporting Information may be found in the online version of this article.

AJH_21894_sm_suppinfo.doc182KSupporting Figure 1

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