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New type of rejection blocker protects kidneys after transplant

UCSF enrolled the first patient to receive belatacept in the trial early in 2001. Twenty UCSF patients have been taking the drug for more than three years. "So far, results are excellent for long-term recipients of the treatment," Vincenti said.

A UCSF immunologist whose research has led to the development of immune tolerance drugs, Jeffrey Bluestone, PhD, put the study in context. "This work underscores the enormous potential of co-stimulatory blockade as a strategy for inducing immune tolerance, not only in transplantation, but in autoimmune diseases as well," Bluestone said. He is UCSF professor of medicine and director of the Immune Tolerance Network (ITN), an NIH-funded international network of more than 80 researchers coordinating clinical testing of new therapies to induce immune tolerance.

"Additionally, this phase II study provides a solid foundation for Dr. Vincenti's upcoming ITN-sponsored study of belatacept in kidney transplant recipients, in which we will test whether true immune tolerance can be achieved," Bluestone said. That new trial, to begin this fall enrolling patients who receive kidney transplants from living donors at UCSF, will test whether transplant patients can be treated with belatacept and can gradually withdraw from all immunosuppressants -- including belatacept itself.

In addition, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, the pharmaceutical company that developed belatacept, is conducting phase III clinical trials of the drug for kidney transplants. UCSF also is participating in that trial.

RESEARCH RESULTS

Belatacept is an injectable protein, one of a group of experimental drugs called co-stimulatory blockers. The immune system's normal response to a transplant is to recognize the new organ as foreign and to signal production of T-cells poised to destroy it. A second, co-stimulatory signal is required before the T-cells attack the kidney. By blocking this second signal, belatacept prevents de
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Source:University of California - San Francisco


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