Martin S, Harris N, Romanus D. Evaluating meaningful changes in physical functioning and cognitive declines in metachromatic leukodystrophy: a caregiver interview study. J Patient Rep Outcomes. 2023 Jul 17;7(1):70. doi: 10.1186/s41687-023-00595-7

BACKGROUND: Metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD) is a rare lysosomal storage disease caused by deficient activity of arylsulfatase A (ASA). Treatment options for symptomatic patients are limited. It is important that any therapeutic benefit of treatments is meaningful for patients and their families. We therefore evaluated the clinical meaningfulness of slowing the decline in gross motor function as measured by the Gross Motor Function Classification in MLD (GMFC-MLD) from the caregiver perspective via semi-structured telephone interviews with caregivers of children with late-infantile MLD. We also evaluated the perceived significance of declines in communication abilities measured by the Expressive Language Function Classification in MLD (ELFC-MLD). This work could help to inform the endpoints of a phase 2 clinical trial (NCT03771898) assessing the efficacy of intrathecal recombinant human ASA in MLD.

RESULTS: Twelve caregivers were recruited, reporting on 12 children with MLD. Children had a mean age of 6.1 years; mean age at symptom onset was 17.6 months. Most children (10/12) progressed from walking without support (categories 0–1) to a loss of locomotion (categories 5–6) in ≤ 2 years. Caregivers felt that GMFC-MLD and ELFC-MLD accurately described functional and expressive language declines in their children, respectively. Most caregivers (10/12) reported that the idea of delaying disease progression would be meaningful. Further, a slowing of motor function decline in GMFC-MLD, from category 1 to category 3 or from category 2 to category 4 over 2 years, was seen as meaningful by all caregivers asked; however, only 3 of 12 reported that delayed decline would be meaningful if baseline category was ≥ 3. Caregivers also reported that delaying expressive language decline at any level that did not indicate a complete loss of expressive language (indicated by categories 1–3) would be meaningful.

CONCLUSIONS: Caregivers of children with MLD felt that a delayed decline in gross motor function, as assessed by the GMFC-MLD, would be meaningful, supporting the selection of primary and secondary endpoints for the phase 2 clinical trial. Communication abilities were another area of significance for consideration in future clinical trial design.

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