Transplant Patients Could Avoid Toxic Drug

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WASHINGTON—New research has found that transplant patients can minimize or avoid using potentially harmful immunosuppresive drugs called calcineurin inhibitors, according to a study published online Sept. 22 in the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN).

According to the study, these drugs protect transplanted organs from being rejected, but they can be toxic to the kidneys over the long term and can make patients susceptible to infection, cancer, and other threats, according to a study published online in the

The new analysis has found that transplant patients can safely minimize or avoid using calcineurin inhibitors.

The investigators examined dozens of studies conducted between1966 and 2010 that compared different treatments following kidney transplantation.

When they weighed the risks and benefits of avoiding or reducing calcineurin inhibitors immediately after kidney transplantation, the researchers found that the strategy improves kidney function without causing rejection in the short-to-medium period after transplantation. In many cases, patients took newer immunosuppressive drugs that are less toxic to the kidneys.

Approximately 94 percent of kidney transplant recipients take calcineurin inhibitors after being discharged from the hospital.

"This study suggests that after 30 years of using calcineurin inhibitors, it may now be possible to undertake safe and effective transplantation without these drugs, at least in some groups of patients," said Richard Borrows, MD, lead author, who is with the Renal Institute of Birmingham in England.

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