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Transplant drug preserves kidneys, avoids toxicity
Date:3/3/2010

The experimental drug belatacept can prevent graft rejection in kidney transplant recipients while better preserving kidney function when compared with standard immunosuppressive drugs, data from two international phase III clinical trials show.

The results are published in the March issue of the American Journal of Transplantation.

The senior author of the paper describing BENEFIT (Belatacept Evaluation of Nephroprotection and Efficacy as First-line Immunosuppression Trial) is Christian P. Larsen, MD, DPhil, director of the Emory Transplant Center and chair of the department of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine. The lead author is Flavio Vincenti, MD, professor of medicine (nephrology) at University of California, San Francisco.

Thomas C. Pearson, MD, DPhil, professor of surgery at Emory and co-director of the kidney/pancreas transplant program at Emory Transplant Center, is a co-author on a companion paper describing belatacept's performance on "extended criteria" kidney transplants (Kidneys from donors that are older or have other factors associated with shorter graft survival).

The drugs most transplant patients now rely on to inhibit their immune systems and prevent graft rejection have serious side effects. The class of drugs known as calcineurin inhibitors (cyclosporine and tacrolimus, for example) can damage the kidneys and lead to high blood pressure and diabetes.

The data from the BENEFIT trial, which tracked 666 kidney transplants at 100 sites around the world, shows that patients taking belatacept had similar graft survival rates to those taking cyclosporine, while maintaining higher kidney function and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. In addition, instead of requiring patients to take pills twice every day, in the case of calcineurin inhibitors, belatacept can be given every few weeks.

Trial data and side effects:

The BENEFIT trial, which was sponsored by Bri
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Contact: Holly Korschun
404-727-3990
Emory University
Source:Eurekalert

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