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Transplant Drug Shrinks Tumors in Women With Rare Lung Disease
Date:1/10/2008

Sirolimus reduced growths by 50% for sufferers of LAM

THURSDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Women who are struck by a rare lung disease could find their tumors shrink by 50 percent with the help of the transplant drug sirolimus, a new study suggests.

The Cincinnati researchers who made the discovery also demonstrated the drug might improve lung function in some patients over time.

Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), a disease that exclusively targets women, is characterized by progressive loss of lung function due to the invasion of abnormal muscle tissue that obstructs airways. In its early stages, LAM can be confused with emphysema because of its effects on breathing. People with LAM often need oxygen treatments and lung transplants as the disease continues its course. According to the American Lung Association, as many as 250,000 women worldwide might have the disease.

The new treatment was also effective in reducing tumors in patients suffering from tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a rare genetic multi-system disease.

The two diseases share a genetic mutation that affects the activation of the enzyme mTOR, which is responsible for controlling the growth and spread of cells. Sirolimus, a drug that is usually prescribed to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs, also prevents mTOR activity, according to the researchers. Sirolimus is also known as rapamycin (Rapamune).

Publishing in the Jan. 10 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers concluded that sirolimus has the potential to help patients with either disease avoid surgery for the tumor angiomyolipomata, common to both conditions.

"Less invasive therapies are clearly needed to treat the angiomyolipomata that people with TSC and LAM develop, and a drug that maintains or shrinks tumor size may reduce the need for procedures such as surgery," study author Dr. John Bissler, a physician/scientist in t
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