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Intranasal Insulin for the Treatment of HAND

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Know the risks and potential benefits of clinical studies and talk to your health care provider before participating. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT03081117
Recruitment Status : Recruiting
First Posted : March 16, 2017
Last Update Posted : June 12, 2019
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Johns Hopkins University

Brief Summary:

Infection with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) can lead to problems with brain function, such as memory, concentration, judgment, and the speed or control of hands and legs. Neurologists have called this condition HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND). This research is being done to see if insulin taken through the nose as a spray (intranasal insulin) can help people with HIV who are having problems with memory and brain function, or HAND.

Participants will be given either insulin or placebo. A placebo is an inactive substance that looks like the study drug, but does not contain study drug. For this research study, the placebo will be a clear, saline-based liquid spray that looks like the insulin spray but has no insulin. Participants will not be told whether they receive insulin or placebo during the study.

All participants will take the intranasal spray twice a day, about 30 minutes after a meal. Participants will use a specialized intranasal drug administration device. The total daily dose of insulin is 40 IU split between 20 IU in the morning and 20 IU in the evening. Participants will take the intranasal spray for 24 weeks.

The researchers will record symptoms and side effects during the study. Procedures include neurocognitive testing of memory and brain function, two optional lumbar punctures ("spinal taps"), two MRI brain scans, monthly blood draws, and clinical assessments.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
HIV Dementia HIV-Associated Cognitive Motor Complex Drug: Insulin, intranasal Drug: Placebo, intranasal Phase 1 Phase 2

Detailed Description:

HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) are characterized by disabling cognitive, behavioral, and motor dysfunction and can occur in individuals with HIV even while taking combination antiretroviral therapy (ART). The mechanisms for these residual impairments are not fully understood, but appear to involve poor penetrance of ART drugs into the central nervous system (CNS) and the resulting brain sanctuary for inadequately suppressed HIV infection with associated sustained inflammation. Adjunctive therapies with targeted neuroprotective agents are critically needed for the treatment of HAND. Insulin is involved in multiple CNS functions including food intake, metabolism, learning, and memory. Insulin has neuroprotective properties demonstrated in cell culture experiments and in vivo models, which provide strong evidence for its use as a therapeutic agent to treat HAND.

Insulin modifying therapy (IMT) includes intranasal insulin administered by a novel nasal drug delivery device. IMT may play important roles in neuronal plasticity and survival by protecting hippocampal neurons against oxidative stress and apoptotic cell death induced by glutamate neurotoxicity. Previous studies support the proposed early phase trial of IMT as a novel therapeutic agent for HAND.

This double-blinded placebo-controlled clinical trial evaluates safety of intranasal insulin at the daily dose of 40 IU and will provide initial data for assessing safety and efficacy. The protocol measures safety by incidence and frequency of adverse events. Clinical effects of IMT over the 24-week trial period are measured by change in neurocognitive and functional testing results, as well as several novel radiological and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) surrogate markers. Outcomes from these studies could have important implications for the design of future studies with IMT and other neuroprotective compounds for HAND.

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Estimated Enrollment : 40 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Intervention Model Description: Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial
Masking: Quadruple (Participant, Care Provider, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Clinical Trial of Intranasal Insulin for the Treatment of HIV-associated Neurocognitive Disorder (HAND)
Actual Study Start Date : August 1, 2017
Estimated Primary Completion Date : July 2021
Estimated Study Completion Date : July 2021

Resource links provided by the National Library of Medicine

MedlinePlus related topics: HIV/AIDS

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Insulin, intranasal
Regular insulin, 20 IU intranasal twice a day for 24 weeks; 0.2 mL per dose
Drug: Insulin, intranasal
Regular insulin administered by specialized, non-commercial intranasal drug delivery device
Other Name: Novolin R

Placebo Comparator: Placebo, intranasal
Saline solution (placebo), intranasal twice a day for 24 weeks; 0.2 mL per dose
Drug: Placebo, intranasal
Saline solution administered by specialized, non-commercial intranasal drug delivery device

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Serious adverse event frequency [ Time Frame: Total during 24-week trial ]
    Number of documented serious adverse events per participant, mean

  2. Global Deficit Score (GDS) [ Time Frame: Difference between baseline and week 24 visits ]
    Arithmetic change in GDS, a composite score based on neurocognitive testing performance

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. CSF biomarkers [ Time Frame: Between baseline and week 24 visits ]
    Changes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of ceramide, sphingomyelin, citrate, neurofilament protein; brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), protein carbonyl, Aβ-42

  2. Neuroimaging markers: SV-MRS [ Time Frame: Changes between baseline and week 24 visits ]
    Single voxel-magnetic resonance spectroscopy (SV-MRS) myoinositol, choline, and N-acetyl aspartate concentrations in frontal white matter and basal ganglia

  3. Neuroimaging markers: DTI [ Time Frame: Changes between baseline and week 24 visits ]
    Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) whole brain fractional anisotropy, DTI whole brain mean diffusivity.

  4. Neuroimaging markers: ASL [ Time Frame: Changes between baseline and week 24 visits ]
    Arterial spin labeling (ASL), a novel measure of cerebral blood flow

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

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Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 69 Years   (Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Must have HIV,
  • Capable of providing informed consent,
  • Between the ages of 18-69 years,
  • Evidence of problems with memory, speed, and brain function,
  • Same HIV medications for at least 6 months (180 days) prior to study entry, with no plans to change the medications over the study period,
  • The following blood lab values within 2 weeks prior to study entry: hemoglobin > 8.9 g/dl, absolute neutrophil count > 500 cells/mm3, platelet count > 50,000 cells/mm3, alanine aminotransferase (ALT) < 2.5 X upper limit of normal, alkaline phosphatase < 3 X upper limit of normal, serum creatinine ≤ 2 X upper limit of normal,
  • Negative pregnancy test (for women who could become pregnant),
  • Able and willing to use an intranasal device for taking the study drug without complications (e.g., no history of traumatic obstruction to nasal passage, chronic sinus infections, severe and symptomatic seasonal allergies, etc.),
  • Currently suppressed blood HIV viral load (undetectable or <400 copies/mL).

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Current or past opportunistic infection of the brain,
  • History or current clinical evidence of schizophrenia,
  • History of chronic neurological disorder, such as multiple sclerosis or uncontrolled epilepsy,
  • Active symptomatic AIDS defining opportunistic infection within 30 days prior to study entry,
  • History of an uncontrolled medical or psychiatric illness which in the opinion of the investigators would constitute a safety risk for patients or interfere with the ability of a participant to complete the study,
  • History of diabetes or treatment with insulin or an oral hypoglycemic agent,
  • Amylase/lipase elevation (≥ 2 X upper limit of normal) within 14 days prior to starting study drug,
  • Detectable plasma HIV RNA test ≥400 copies/mL within 6 months prior to baseline/randomization,
  • History of any endocrine related cancer, including any thyroid tumor,
  • Current use of cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine. Current use will be defined and determined by any evidence of such use within the two years (730 days) prior to study enrollment; evidence includes but is not limited to urine drug toxicology testing by the study team at screening and pre-entry visits,
  • Presence of other conditions that significantly affect and complicate performance on neurocognitive tests (such as, learning disabilities, history of severe alcohol abuse, head injury with trauma to the brain and loss of consciousness >30 minutes).

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT03081117

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Contact: Ned Sacktor, MD 410-550-1045

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United States, Maryland
The Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, Adult Outpatient Clinical Research Unit Recruiting
Baltimore, Maryland, United States, 21287
Contact: Mary De'Jarnette, RN, MSN    410-955-2760   
Sponsors and Collaborators
Johns Hopkins University
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Principal Investigator: Ned Sacktor, MD Johns Hopkins University

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Responsible Party: Johns Hopkins University Identifier: NCT03081117    
Other Study ID Numbers: IRB00108564
First Posted: March 16, 2017    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: June 12, 2019
Last Verified: June 2019
Individual Participant Data (IPD) Sharing Statement:
Plan to Share IPD: No

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Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Drug Product: Yes
Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Device Product: No
Keywords provided by Johns Hopkins University:
HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder (HAND)
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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AIDS Dementia Complex
Neurocognitive Disorders
Brain Diseases
Central Nervous System Diseases
Nervous System Diseases
Mental Disorders
HIV Infections
Lentivirus Infections
Retroviridae Infections
RNA Virus Infections
Virus Diseases
Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Viral
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes
Immune System Diseases
Insulin, Globin Zinc
Hypoglycemic Agents
Physiological Effects of Drugs