Efficacy of three benznidazole dosing strategies for adults living with chronic Chagas disease (MULTIBENZ): an international, randomised, double-blind, phase 2b trial

MULTIBENZ Study Group

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Abstract

Background: Treatment with benznidazole for chronic Chagas disease is associated with low cure rates and substantial toxicity. We aimed to compare the parasitological efficacy and safety of 3 different benznidazole regimens in adult patients with chronic Chagas disease. Methods: The MULTIBENZ trial was an international, randomised, double-blind, phase 2b trial performed in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Spain. We included participants aged 18 years and older diagnosed with Chagas disease with two different serological tests and detectable T cruzi DNA by qPCR in blood. Previously treated people, pregnant women, and people with severe cardiac forms were excluded. Participants were randomly assigned 1:1:1, using a balanced block randomisation scheme stratified by country, to receive benznidazole at three different doses: 300 mg/day for 60 days (control group), 150 mg/day for 60 days (low dose group), or 400 mg/day for 15 days (short treatment group). The primary outcome was the proportion of patients with a sustained parasitological negativity by qPCR during a follow-up period of 12 months. The primary safety outcome was the proportion of people who permanently discontinued the treatment. Both primary efficacy analysis and primary safety analysis were done in the intention-to-treat population. The trial is registered with EudraCT, 2016-003789-21, and ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03191162, and is completed. Findings: From April 20, 2017, to Sept 20, 2020, 245 people were enrolled, and 234 were randomly assigned: 78 to the control group, 77 to the low dose group, and 79 to the short treatment group. Sustained parasitological negativity was observed in 42 (54%) of 78 participants in the control group, 47 (61%) of 77 in the low dose group, and 46 (58%) of 79 in the short treatment group. Odds ratios were 1·41 (95% CI 0·69–2·88; p=0·34) when comparing the low dose and control groups and 1·23 (0·61–2·50; p=0·55) when comparing short treatment and control groups. 177 participants (76%) had an adverse event: 62 (79%) in the control group, 56 (73%) in the low dose group, and 59 (77%) in the short treatment group. However, discontinuations were less frequent in the short treatment group compared with the control group (2 [2%] vs 11 [14%]; OR 0·20, 95% CI 0·04–0·95; p=0·044). Interpretation: Participants had a similar parasitological responses. However, reducing the usual treatment from 8 weeks to 2 weeks might maintain the same response while facilitating adherence and increasing treatment coverage. These findings should be confirmed in a phase 3 clinical trial. Funding: European Community's 7th Framework Programme.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Lancet Infectious Diseases
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024
Externally publishedYes

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