New Drug May Benefit Patients with Cushing’s Disease

Researchers from eight international institutions, including the Medical College of Wisconsin, conducted the research trial of the drug pasireotide, which is trademarked Signifor by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.  The Phase III study was funded by Novartis.

Cushing’s disease is a debilitating endocrine disorder caused by excess cortisol in the body, which is due to the presence of a pituitary tumor.  Its effects include weight gain, fatigue, bruising, stretch marks, sleep disorder, and cognitive deficits. It primarily affects women from 20 to 50 years old, and there are currently no medications that target Cushing’s disease.

In this study, patients received either 900 or 600 micrograms of pasireotide twice daily via injection.  The goal of the medication is to normalize urinary-free cortisol levels.   After six months, 26% of the patients receiving the 900 microgram dose, and 14% of the patients receiving the 600 microgram dose, showed normalized cortisol levels.

“To this point, practitioners have been limited with their treatment options for Cushing’s,” said James W. Findling, MD, professor of endocrinology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and one of the authors of the study.  “This data shows there may be a therapeutic treatment which will alleviate symptoms, and help patients control their disease.”