Switching immunosuppressants reduces cancer risk in kidney

Nov 02, 2009

Switching to a newer type of immunosuppressant drug may reduce the high rate of skin cancer after kidney transplantation, according to research being presented at the American Society of Nephrology's 42nd Annual Meeting and Scientific Exposition in San Diego, CA.

"In spite of the life-saving nature of , the need for transplant recipients to continue treatment with drugs that suppress the immune system to prevent rejection of the organ is associated with a number of side effects, one of which is the development of cancer," said lead researcher Graeme Russ, MD (The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Australia). "So the search for an immunosuppressive drug which prevents rejection effectively but is associated with lower rates of cancer will be of significant advantage to transplant recipients."

The study included 86 kidney transplant patients who previously had (other than )—placing them at particularly high risk of new skin cancers. In Australia, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer occurring post-transplant.

One group of patients remained on standard immunosuppressant drug treatment. The other group was switched to treatment with sirolimus—one of a newer class of immunosuppressants called mTOR inhibitors. "Previous studies have suggested that mTOR inhibitors are associated with less cancer than other commonly used agents," according to Russ.

Patients switched to sirolimus had a significantly lower rate of new skin cancers. Overall, new skin cancers developed in 56 percent of patients in the sirolimus group, compared to 81 percent of those who remained on the standard immunosuppressant. Most of the difference reflected a lower rate of one type of cancer, called squamous cell .

Nearly half of patients stopped taking sirolimus because of side effects. "In spite of this large dropout rate there was a significantly lower rate of skin cancer development in the sirolimus group," said Russ. Switching to sirolimus did not increase the risk of rejection of the transplanted kidney.

Switching immunosuppressants may offer a new option to reduce the high risk of skin cancer for transplant recipients, the researchers believe. Russ added, "This is the first randomized controlled trial to address whether patients treated with mTOR inhibitors after renal transplantation have less skin cancer."

Source: American Society of Nephrology (news : web)

Explore further: Phase 3 study may be game-changer for acute myeloid leukemia

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Liver transplant recipients have higher cancer risk

Nov 03, 2008

A new Canadian study comparing cancer rates of liver transplant patients to those of the general population has found that transplant recipients face increased risks of developing cancer, especially non-Hodgkin's lymphoma ...

Recommended for you

Phase 3 study may be game-changer for acute myeloid leukemia

2 hours ago

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers say clinical trials for a new experimental drug to treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are very promising. Patients treated with CPX-351, a combination of the chemotherapeutic drugs cytarabine ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Fresh hope for preventing pneumonia in the elderly

There are calls for the frail and elderly not be be overlooked for vaccines against pneumonia this winter, with UNSW research challenging conventional wisdom on immunisation effectiveness in older patients.

Phase transiting to a new quantum universe

(Phys.org) —Recent insight and discovery of a new class of quantum transition opens the way for a whole new subfield of materials physics and quantum technologies.

Imaging turns a corner

(Phys.org) —Scientists have developed a new microscope which enables a dramatically improved view of biological cells.

NASA image: Volcanoes in Guatemala

This photo of volcanoes in Guatemala was taken from NASA's C-20A aircraft during a four-week Earth science radar imaging mission deployment over Central and South America. The conical volcano in the center ...

When things get glassy, molecules go fractal

Colorful church windows, beads on a necklace and many of our favorite plastics share something in common—they all belong to a state of matter known as glasses. School children learn the difference between ...