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Genevieve Neal-Perry, MD, PhD, Distinguished Professor and Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology, presented findings of this industry-sponsored study at ENDO 2022, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Atlanta.

In a phase 3 clinical trial of the drug fezolinetant, researchers co-led by Genevieve Neal-Perry, MD, PhD, Distinguished Professor and Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UNC School of Medicine showed that the drug significantly reduced the frequency and severity of moderate-to-severe vasomotor symptoms (VMS), or hot flashes, associated with menopause.

VMS associated with menopause, which are characterized by hot flashes and/or night sweats, affect millions of women worldwide and can impact daily activities as well as quality of life. Recent studies from Dr. Neal-Perry and others have filled gaps in knowledge regarding the basic biology of VMS and paved the way for drug discovery and the development of non-hormonal treatments.

The SKYLIGHT 2 trial was a year-long study to investigate the safety and efficacy of fezolinetant, which is a neurokinin 3 receptor antagonist, on the frequency and severity of moderate-to-severe VMS and sleep disturbance. The mean change in patient-reported sleep disturbance, from baseline to week 12, was a key secondary endpoint in the study.

The researchers randomized 501 post-menopausal women ages 40–65 with an average of seven or more moderate-to-severe hot flashes/day to placebo or one of two once-daily doses of fezolinetant – 30mg or 45mg – for 12 weeks. In the extension period, those on placebo were re-randomized to fezolinetant 30mg or 45mg, and those originally on fezolinetant remained on their dose for the remaining 40 weeks. The extension period analysis comprised 484 women.

Neal-Perry and colleagues evaluated the efficacy of fezolinetant compared to placebo and found improvement in VMS frequency and severity through week 12. Both doses were associated with a statistically significant reduction in the frequency and severity of hot flashes, which was maintained through the 52-week study period. Data support the overall safety and tolerability previously observed for fezolinetant at the 30 and 45 mg doses.

Those who were re-randomized from placebo to fezolinetant experienced a reduction in frequency and severity of VMS consistent with the women initially randomized to fezolinetant. The treatment also reduced sleep disturbances as assessed by Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Sleep Disturbance (PROMIS SD SF 8b).

“These results, along with other fezolinetant studies, will be important in understanding the use of this oral nonhormonal selective NK3 receptor antagonist to treat moderate-to-severe VMS associated with menopause,” said Neal-Perry, who presented the research findings of this study at ENDO 2022, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in mid-June.

The study was sponsored by Astellas Pharma Inc. These data have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

UNC contact: Mark Derewicz