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Newer Drug Seems Better at Controlling Lupus Kidney Complication
Date:11/16/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- A newer immune-suppressing drug called mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept) is better at controlling a serious kidney complication from lupus than another commonly used therapy, a new study suggests.

People taking mycophenolate were about half as likely to progress to treatment failure as were people taking azathioprine (Imuran), according to the researchers.

"This study was looking at maintenance therapy for people with lupus nephritis. Was the older drug azathioprine similar or better to the newer drug mycophenolate mofetil [MMF]? We found that MMF was better overwhelmingly," said study author Dr. Mary Anne Dooley, an associate professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"There were fewer flares of recurrent nephritis in the group receiving MMF, and more people on MMF went into complete remission. All of the parameters we looked at were going in the same direction," she said.

Results of the study are published in the Nov. 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Systemic lupus erythematosus, or lupus, is an autoimmune disease that can cause problems in many areas of the body, including the kidneys. When lupus affects the kidneys, it's called lupus nephritis.

"Lupus nephritis is one of the more serious consequences of lupus. It's associated with significantly increased morbidity and mortality," explained Dr. Cynthia Aranow, an investigator at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y.

Because lupus is an autoimmune disease, healthy cells are mistakenly destroyed by the body's immune system. So, drugs that suppress the immune system dampen the attack on healthy cells, and are the main treatment currently available for lupus nephritis. The drugs are administered in a similar manner to the way they're used for suppressing the immune system after an organ
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