Concentration-Dependent Activity of Hydromethylthionine on Clinical Decline and Brain Atrophy in a Randomized Controlled Trial in Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia

Helen Shiells, Bjoern O. Schelter, Peter Bentham, Thomas C. Baddeley, Christopher M. Rubino, Harish Ganesan, Jeffrey Hammel, Vesna Vuksanovic, Roger T. Staff, Alison D. Murray, Luc Bracoud, Damon J. Wischik, Gernot Riedel, Serge Gauthier, Jianping Jia, Hans J. Moebius, Jiri Hardlund, Christopher M. Kipps, Karin Kook, John M. D. StoreyCharles R. Harrington, Claude M. Wischik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Hydromethylthionine is a potent inhibitor of pathological aggregation of Tau and TDP-43 proteins.

Objective: To compare hydromethylthionine treatment effects at two doses and to determine how drug exposure is related to treatment response in bvFTD.

Methods: We undertook a 52-week Phase 3 study in 220 bvFTD patients randomised to compare hydromethylthionine at 200 mg/day and 8 mg/day (intended as a control). The principal outcomes were change on the Addenbrookes Cognitive Examination – Revised (ACE-R), the Functional Activities Questionnaire (FAQ) and whole brain volume. Secondary outcomes included Modified Clinical Global Impression of Change (Modified-CGIC). A population pharmacokinetic exposure-response analysis was undertaken in 176 of the patients with available blood samples and outcome data using a discriminatory plasma assay for the parent drug.

Results: There were no significant differences between the two doses as randomised. There were steep concentration-response relationships for plasma levels in the range 0.3 – 0.6 ng/ml at the 8 mg/day dose on clinical and MRI outcomes. There were significant exposure dependent differences at 8 mg/day for FAQ, Modified-CGIC and whole brain atrophy comparing patients with plasma levels greater than 0.346 ng/ml with having minimal drug exposure. The exposure-response is biphasic with worse outcomes at the high concentrations produced by 200 mg/day.

Conclusions: Hydromethylthionine has a similar concentration-response profile for effects on clinical decline and brain atrophy at the 8 mg/day dose in bvFTD as recently reported in AD. Treatment responses in bvFTD are predicted to be maximal at doses in the range 20 – 60 mg/day. A confirmatory placebo-controlled trial is now planned.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-519
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2020

Bibliographical note

The study was sponsored by TauRx Therapeutics (Singapore).

We gratefully acknowledge study investigators and the generosity of study participants.


  • Hydromethylthionine
  • Leucomethylthioninium
  • Behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia
  • Clinical trials
  • Tau protein
  • TDP-43
  • leucomethylthioninium
  • hydromethylthionine
  • Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia
  • clinical trials
  • tau protein


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