Cancer Drug May Help With Kidney Transplants

MONDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) -- The cancer drug bortezomib (Velcade) may also be effective at treating and reversing the rejection of transplanted kidneys, a new study finds.

Bortezomib, which is used to treat cancer of the plasma cells, seems to target antibody-producing plasma cells that can cause organ rejection, according to the study, published in the Dec. 27 issue of the journal Transplantation.

"It has become clear that plasma cells and the antibodies they produce play a bigger role in rejection than previously thought, and the development of therapies targeting these cells has lagged," study lead author Dr. Steve Woodle, chief of transplant surgery at University of Cincinnati, said in a news release issued by the school. "We realized that current therapies don't target the plasma cells which may produce the antibody, in general," he said.

In the study, all six kidney transplant recipients with treatment-resistant organ rejection who received bortezomib experienced prompt rejection reversal, long-term reductions in antibody levels and improved organ function with suppression of recurrent rejection for at least five months.

The toxicities of bortezomib were at expected and manageable levels that were less than those of other anti-cancer agents, study co-author Jason Everly, an oncology pharmacist in the division of transplant surgery at UC, said in the same news release.

More information

The U.S. National Kidney Foundation has more about kidney transplants.

SOURCE: University of Cincinnati, news release, Dec. 27, 2008