Scleroderma Lung Study III – Combining Pirfenidone With Mycophenolate


A Phase II multi-center, double-blind, parallel group, randomized and placebo-controlled clinical trial addressing the treatment of patients with active and symptomatic Scleroderma-related interstitial lung disease (SSc-ILD).

Full Title of Study: “Scleroderma Lung Study III (SLS III): Combining the Anti-fibrotic Effects of Pirfenidone (PFD) With Mycophenolate (MMF) for Treating Scleroderma-related Interstitial Lung Disease”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
    • Primary Purpose: Treatment
    • Masking: Triple (Participant, Care Provider, Investigator)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: April 15, 2022

Detailed Description

A Phase II multi-center, double-blind, parallel group, randomized and placebo-controlled clinical trial addressing the treatment of patients with active and symptomatic Scleroderma-related interstitial lung disease (SSc-ILD). Patients who are either treatment naive or only recently started treatment (</= 6 months of prior treatment) will be randomized in a 1:1 assignment to receive either oral mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) and a placebo (Plac) or a combination of oral MMF and oral pirfenidone (PFD), with both regimens administered for 18 months. The primary hypothesis is that the rapid onset and anti-fibrotic effects of PFD, which have been observed in the treatment of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), will complement the delayed antiinflammatory and immunosuppressive effects of MMF, to produce a significantly more rapid and/or greater improvement in lung function over time than occurs in patients receiving control therapy with MMF and Plac.


  • Drug: Pirfenidone (PFD)
    • Participants will receive PFD titrated up to a target dose of 801 mg taken three times daily as tolerated (3-step titration occurring at 2 week intervals).
  • Drug: Placebo (Plac)
    • Participants will receive a Plac, matched to resemble PFD, titrated up to a target dose of 801 mg taken three times daily as tolerated (3-step titration occurring at 2 week intervals).
  • Drug: Mycophenolate Mofetil (MMF)
    • Participants will receive MMF titrated up to a target dose of 1500 mg taken twice daily as tolerated (4-step titration occurring at monthly intervals).

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Placebo Comparator: Placebo (Plac) + Mycophenolate (MMF)
    • Participants will receive Placebo (Plac) as add-on to a background therapy of Mycophenolate Mofetil (MMF).
  • Experimental: Pirfenidone (PFD) + Mycophenolate (MMF)
    • Participants will receive Pirfenidone (PFD) as add-on to a background therapy of Mycophenolate Mofetil (MMF).

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Percent predicted forced vital capacity (FVC-%)
    • Time Frame: Baseline to 18 months, measured at 3 month intervals.
    • Change from baseline, measured at 3-month intervals, in the mean forced vital capacity (represented as the percentage of the age-; height-; gender-; and race-adjusted predicted value, i.e. FVC-%).

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

1. Age ≥18 yrs

2. Scleroderma as determined by the 2013 American College of Rheumatology (ACR)/European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) classification criteria.

3. Grade ≥2 on the Magnitude of Task component of the Mahler Modified Dyspnea Index

4. FVC-% of ≤85% at screening

5. Onset of the first non-Raynaud manifestation of SSc within the prior 84 months.

6. Presence of any ground-glass opacification (GGO) on thoracic HRCT

7. Repeat FVC-% at the baseline visit within 10% of the FVC-% value measured at screening. If these criteria are not met, a repeat FVC-% may be obtained within 7 days and the subject may qualify for randomization if the repeat FVC-% agrees within 10% of the FVC-% obtained at screening.

Exclusion Criteria

1. Disease features supporting the primary diagnosis of another connective tissue disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus or mixed connective tissue disease (Features consistent with a secondary Sjogren syndrome or scleroderma-associated myopathy will be allowed).

2. FVC-% of <45% at either screening or baseline.

3. Forced Expiratory Volume in the first second (FEV1)/Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) ratio <0.65 at either screening or baseline.

4. DLCOHb-% of <30% at screening or <25% at baseline.

a) All participants with a DLCOHb-% between 30 to 40% must have pulmonary artery pressures documented by either echocardiogram, right heart catheterization or magnetic resonance imaging in order to be considered for inclusion.

5. Diagnosis of clinically significant resting pulmonary hypertension requiring treatment or mild pulmonary hypertension requiring treatment with more than one oral medication as ascertained prior to study evaluation or as part of a standard of care clinical assessment performed outside of the study protocol.

6. Evidence of uncontrolled congestive heart failure, unstable ischemic heart disease, history of complicated pulmonary embolism impacting on heart or lung function, or unstable cardiac arrhythmia requiring chronic anticoagulation.

7. Clinically significant abnormalities on HRCT not attributable to SSc

8. Hematologic abnormality at screening including:

1. Leukopenia (white blood cells [WBC] <4.0×10^3/µl).

2. Thrombocytopenia (platelet count <120.0×10^3/µl).

3. Clinically significant anemia [Hemoglobin (Hgb) <10.0 g/dl].

Participants with an identified and correctable etiology may be eligible if repeat testing within the maximal 90-day screening period meets all criteria.

9. A diagnosis of chronic liver disease or abnormal baseline liver function test (LFTs) or total bilirubin that are >2.0 x upper normal limit

10. Serum creatinine >2.0mg/dl

11. History of recurrent aspiration, uncontrolled heartburn, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) with a reflux scale score of >1.00 as determined by a UCLA Scleroderma Clinical Trial Consortium Gastrointestinal Scale (UCLA SCTC GIT), Version 2.0.

Participants with uncontrolled heartburn or GERD that is amenable to medical management may be eligible if repeat testing within the maximal 90-day screening period meets this criteria.

12. Known achalasia, esophageal stricture or esophageal dysfunction sufficient to limit the ability to swallow medication.

13. Pregnancy (as documented by blood test) and/or breast feeding

14. If of child bearing potential (a female participant < 55 years of age who has not been postmenopausal for ≥ 5 years or who has not had a bilateral salpingectomy, hysterectomy and/or oophorectomy), failure to employ two reliable means of contraception which may include surgical sterilization, barrier methods, spermicidals, intrauterine devices, and/or hormonal contraception, unless the participant chooses abstinence (to avoid heterosexual intercourse completely). If a subject chooses abstinence, then a second reliable means of contraception is not needed.

15. Prior use of potential disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) according to the following exposure rules:

1. Use of oral cyclophosphamide (CYC), MMF, azathioprine or other oral or short half-life DMARDs (as detailed in Protocol Section 7.5.1a) for more than 6 months in the past year as determined at the time of the initial screening visit.

2. Treatment with more than three intravenous doses of CYC, one treatment course of Rituximab or other intravenous or injectable DMARDs (as detailed in Protocol Section 7.5.1b) in the past year.

3. More distant history of treatment with a DMARD is allowed as long as the patient has a new diagnosis/new episode of active SSc-ILD since stopping that treatment and meets the criteria noted in 15a or 15b.

16. Use of CYC, MMF, azathioprine, Rituximab or other DMARD (as defined in Protocol Section 7.5.1a&b) in the 30 days prior to their baseline visit unless the patient is on MMF and the responsible physician indicates that continued use is in the best clinical interest of the patient.

17. Active infection (lung, ulcers or elsewhere) whose management would be compromised by immunosuppression.

18. Other serious concomitant medical illness (e.g., active malignancy within the past 5 years other than surgically-removed local skin cancer such as a basal cell carcinoma), chronic debilitating illness (other than SSc), unreliability or drug abuse that might compromise the patient's participation in the trial.

19. Current use, or use within the 30 days prior to their baseline visit, of prednisone (or equivalent) in doses >10 mg/day.

20. Smoking of cigars, pipes, or cigarettes during the past 6 months.

21. Use of contraindicated medications, including medications with putative disease-modifying properties that do not meet the exposure limits described in Exclusion Criteria #15 and #16, moderate or strong inhibitors of cytochrome P450 (CYP) isozyme 1A2 (CYP1A2) (note ciprofloxacin allowed up to a dose of 500 mg twice daily), and moderate inducers of CYP1A2 (such as tobacco smoke or phenytoin). See Protocol Section 7.5 for complete list.

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 18 Years

Maximum Age: N/A

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: No

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • Michael Roth
  • Collaborator
    • University of Michigan
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Sponsor-Investigator: Michael Roth, Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine – University of California, Los Angeles
  • Overall Official(s)
    • Michael D Roth, MD, Principal Investigator, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Overall Contact(s)
    • Grace D Ibrahim, (310) 206-0396,


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Tashkin DP, Volkmann ER, Tseng CH, Roth MD, Khanna D, Furst DE, Clements PJ, Theodore A, Kafaja S, Kim GH, Goldin J, Ariolla E, Elashoff RM. Improved Cough and Cough-Specific Quality of Life in Patients Treated for Scleroderma-Related Interstitial Lung Disease: Results of Scleroderma Lung Study II. Chest. 2017 Apr;151(4):813-820. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2016.11.052. Epub 2016 Dec 22.

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