The following article features coverage from the 17th Annual WORLDSymposium meeting. Click here to read more of MPR’s conference coverage.

Olipudase alfa was associated with significant improvements in clinically relevant disease end points among patients with chronic visceral acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) deficiency (ASMD), according to results from the phase 2/3 ASCEND trial presented at the 17th Annual WORLDSymposium.

ASMD is a rare, debilitating lysosomal storage disease characterized by a deficiency of the enzyme acid sphingomyelinase, which results in the accumulation of sphingomyelin in various tissues of the body. Olipudase alfa is an investigational enzyme replacement therapy designed to replace deficient or defective ASM.

The multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled ASCEND trial evaluated the efficacy and safety of olipudase alfa in 36 adults with chronic visceral ASMD. Patients were randomly assigned 1:1 to receive olipudase alfa 3mg/kg intravenously every 2 weeks or placebo for 52 weeks. The coprimary end points were the percent change in spleen volume and percent-predicted diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide (DLCO). 

At week 52, treatment with olipudase alfa resulted in a 39.45% reduction in spleen volume, compared with a 0.5% increase for placebo (P <.0001). A decrease in spleen volume of at least 30% was observed in 17 patients (94%) treated with olipudase afla compared with no patients treated with placebo. Additionally, olipudase alfa significantly improved lung function by 22% from baseline compared with 3% for patients receiving placebo (P =.0004), as measured by percent predicted DLCO.

Olipudase alfa also met key secondary end points including a 31.7% reduction in liver volume (vs a 1.4% reduction for placebo; P <.0001) and a 16.8% improvement in mean platelet counts (vs 2.5% with placebo; P =.019) at week 52. Significant improvements in HDL, LDL, AST, ALT, chitotriosidase (54% vs 12% with placebo; P =.0003), and lyso-sphingomyelin (78% vs 6% with placebo) were also observed in the olipudase alfa group at week 52.

With regard to Splenomegaly Related Score, a patient-reported outcome measurement that evaluates patient symptoms associated with an enlarged spleen, findings showed no meaningful difference between olipudase alfa and placebo (-8 point vs -9.3 points, respectively).

As for safety, olipudase alfa was well tolerated with most adverse events being mild to moderate in severity. There were no treatment-related serious adverse events and no adverse event-related discontinuations.

Disclosure: Some authors have declared affiliations with or received funding from the pharmaceutical industry. Please refer to the original study for a full list of disclosures.


Wasserstein M, Arash-Kaps L, Barbato A, et al. Adults with chronic acid sphingomyelinase deficiency show significant visceral, pulmonary, and hematologic improvements after enzyme replacement therapy with olipudase-alfa: 1-year results of the ASCEND placebo-controlled trial. Presented at: 17th Annual WORLDSymposium; February 8-12, 2021. Abstract 265.