Introduction: This research examined the perspective of the Huntington’s Disease (HD) community regarding the use of predictive biomarkers as endpoints for regulatory approval of therapeutics to prevent or delay the onset of clinical HD in asymptomatic mutation carriers.
Methods: An online, choice-based conjoint survey was shared with HD community members including untested at-risk individuals, pre-symptomatic mutation carriers, and symptomatic individuals. Across fifteen scenarios, participants chose among two proposed therapies with differing degrees of biomarker improvement and side effects or a third option of no treatment.
Results: 238 responses were received. Attributes reflecting biomarker efficacy (e.g., prevention of brain atrophy on MRI, reduced mutant huntingtin or neurofilament light chain proteins) had 3 to 7-fold greater importance than attributes representing side effects (e.g., increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke over 20 years) and were more influential in directing choice of treatments. Reduction in mutant huntingtin protein was the most valued attribute overall. Multinomial logit model simulations based on survey responses demonstrated high interest among respondents (87-99% of the population) for drugs that might prevent or delay HD solely based upon biomarker evidence, even at the risk of serious side effects.
Conclusion: These results indicate a strong desire among members of the HD community for preventive therapeutics and a willingness to accept significant side effects, even before the drug has been shown to definitively delay disease onset if the drug improves biomarker evidence of HD progression. Preferences of the HD community should inform regulatory policies for approving preventive therapies.