Transplant rejection drug holds promise for
inflammatory eye disease
Transplant rejection drug holds promise for inflammatory
eye diseaseSeptember 02, 2005 The immunosuppressive
drug mycophenolate mofetil, used to prevent rejection
of transplanted hearts, kidneys and livers, may
also be effective in controlling inflammatory
eye diseases, according to a study by researchers
at Johns Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute. "The
drug seemed to be effective even in patients who
had failed treatment from other immunosuppressive
drugs," says lead author Jennifer E. Thorne,
M.D., an assistant professor of ophthalmology.
Physicians gave the drug to 84 patients, of whom
61 percent had uveitis (intraocular inflammation),
17 percent had scleritis (inflammation of the
outer wall of the eye), 11 percent had mucous
membrane pemphigoid (a condition causing scarring
of the eyelids) and 11 percent had inflammation
behind the eye or in other areas. Patients took
two pills each morning and two each evening, for
a total dose of 2 grams daily.
Thirty-six patients already had been treated
with at least one other immunosuppressive drug.
Study results, published in the August issue of
the journal Ophthalmology, showed that 81 patients
had control of their ocular inflammation after
one month of treatment. Eighty-two percent of
patients had control of their inflammation and
were able to taper their dose of the steroid prednisone
to 10 or fewer milligrams daily.
Only seven patients
discontinued the drug due to side effects such
as stomach upset or mild diarrhea. In most cases,
Thorne says, lowering the dose of medication can
reduce side effects. The drug dosage often can
then be increased without the side effects returning.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions