San Francisco – A drug called Belatacept has shown better results in kidney recipients than the calcineurin inhibitor, the most common after transplant treatment. Both drugs control the immune system so it won’t reject the transplanted organ.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that kidney transplant recipients taking Belatacept experienced a significantly lower rate of mortality and graft loss than the patients taking a calcineurin inhibitor-based regimen. The risk of death or organ loss after seven years of treatment was 12.7 % for belatacept and 21.7 % for the previously used treatment. Belatacept almost cut the odds in half.

Image: Steroidal
A new drug called Belatacept has shown better results in kidney recipients than the common calcineurin inhibitor. Image: Steroidal

To reach that conclusion, 666 participants were randomly assigned to a study group and underwent transplantation. The patients were divided to take a small dose of belatacept; another group a larger dose; and the third group was treated with the cyclosporine regimen. All groups were closely followed for 84 months.

There was a 43% reduction in the risk of death or graft in the more-intensive and less intensive belatacept treatments, compared with the cyclosporine regimen. While the results indicate that it is a more effective treatment to potentially improve long-term health, the best use for the drug needs more study. Belatacept has short-term risks that include an increase of possibilities for certain cancer, according to a press release by Emory University.

The organ-recipient patients need, after surgery, a expensive treatment to prevent their immune system from rejecting the new organ, but the drug itself can cause more troubles. The calcineurin inhibitor can cause damage in the kidneys and lead to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes when used for a long period.

The drug was developed in Emory University by a team of researchers and professors. The study was called BENEFIT (Belatacept Evaluation of Nephroprotection and Efficacy as First-line Immunosuppression Trial). Belatacept was approved by the FDA in 2011 based on the first three years of the BENEFIT study.

Source: Emory News Center