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Kidney Week

Abstract: SA-PO919

Results of Phase 2 MERLIN: An Evaluation of Safety, Tolerability, and Efficacy of Bardoxolone Methyl in Patients With Rapidly Progressing CKD

Session Information

Category: CKD (Non-Dialysis)

  • 2202 CKD (Non-Dialysis): Clinical‚ Outcomes‚ and Trials


  • Pergola, Pablo E., Renal Associates PA, San Antonio, Texas, United States
  • Kooienga, Laura, Colorado Kidney Care, Denver, Colorado, United States
  • Goldsberry, Angie, Reata Pharmaceuticals Inc, Irving, Texas, United States
  • Meyer, Colin John, Reata Pharmaceuticals Inc, Irving, Texas, United States
  • Silva, Arnold L., Boise Kidney and Hypertension Institute, Meridian, Idaho, United States
  • Khan, Samina, Reata Pharmaceuticals Inc, Irving, Texas, United States

Bardoxolone methyl (Bard) is an investigational drug that activates Nrf2. Improvements in eGFR, creatinine clearance, and inulin clearance have been observed with Bard treatment in multiple clinical trials in patients with CKD of various etiologies like Alport syndrome, ADPKD, IgA nephropathy and DKD.


MERLIN (NCT04702997) was a multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 2 trial that enrolled patients with CKD of multiple etiologies at risk of rapid kidney disease progression (rate of eGFR decline ≥4 mL/min/1.73 m2 in prior year or urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio ≥300 mg/g or persistent hematuria). Patients 18-75 years of age with eGFR ≥20 to <60 mL/min/1.73m2 were randomized 1:1 to receive Bard or placebo. Patients with BNP >200 pg/mL at screening visit were excluded. The primary efficacy endpoint was the change from baseline (CFB) in eGFR at Week 12. To assess the exploratory objective of characterizing change in eGFR during the off-treatment (OT) period, serial eGFR was assessed at 3, 7, 14, 21, 28, and 35 days after last dose of Bard. Safety endpoints included lab results, vital signs, ECG, weight, and AEs.


Eighty-one patients were treated with Bard (n=39) or placebo (n=42). Baseline eGFR was 35.7±9.9 mL/min/1.73m2 (mean±SD), with 68 patients (84%) having eGFR <45 mL/min/1.73 m2. The CFB in eGFR after 12 weeks of treatment was 6.79±0.93 (mean±SE) in patients treated with Bard as compared to -0.92±0.87 (mean±SE) mL/min/1.73m2 in patients treated with placebo (p<0.0001). Mean eGFR CFB for patients on Bard declined once it was discontinued and stabilized at 1.58±0.83 (mean±SE) mL/min/1.73m2 by Day 21 OT, with no further decline after that. Most TEAEs were mild to moderate in severity. Those reported in >5% of patients in either treatment group were muscle spasms, nausea and decrease in weight.


Consistent with previous studies of patients treated with Bard, the 12-week treatment in the MERLIN study resulted in significant increases in eGFR in patients taking Bard when compared with placebo. The acute eGFR increase associated with Bard was resolved by Day 21 OT. Bard was found to be safe and well tolerated. Overall, no new safety signals emerged during the study.


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