Novel drug for kidney transplant effective in humans

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Washington, Feb 18 (ANI): A new drug for kidney transplant may prove to be more useful than the existing class of drugs like cyclosporine in preventing the immune system from rejecting new organs.

Belatacept, a first-in-class costimulation blocker, has been found to be effective after a study involving 686 patients was conducted.

The patients, aged 18 years or older, who were expected to receive a kidney transplant from a standard criteria donor were included in BENEFIT (Belatacept Evaluation of Nephroprotection and Efficacy as First-line Immunosuppression Trial).

Dr. Flavio Vincenti of the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, with his team then divided them into three groups. The patients received more or less intensive regimens of belatacept, or cyclosporine.

A total of 666 patients eventually received a transplant, among whom 527 completed the initial 12 month treatment phase, with an even spread of discontinuation between the groups.

Vincenti said: "Although belatacept was associated with a higher early rejection rate than patients treated with cyclosporine, it was also associated with better kidney function and thus has the potential of extending the life of the renal graft. Of course, only time will tell how many patients may benefit from this new drug."

He added: "Our findings show that this will be a novel and more specific way of suppressing the immune system with less toxicity,"

Vincenti explained Belatacept is different from calcineurin inhibitors (CNI), such as cyclosporine, because it does not cause the toxicities associated with CNI - such as nephrotoxicity and aggravating cardiovascular risk factors.

The study has been published in the American Journal of Transplantation. (ANI)

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