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New Drug Tackles Lupus Nephritis

May benefit people with kidney disorder, study says

MONDAY, Oct. 27, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- An immunosuppressive drug called mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) may provide improved treatment for people with a kidney disorder called lupus nephritis, which affects many who have systemic lupus erythematosus.

A study presented over the weekend at the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., found MMF was as effective as standard treatment for lupus nephritis with potentially fewer side effects.

The 24-week study included 140 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus who had advanced stages of lupus nephritis. One group of 71 patients received MMF while those in the second group received intravenous cyclophosphamide (IVC), the traditional front-line treatment.

Of the 130 patients who completed the study, 52 of 66 patients receiving MMF completed the entire 24 weeks, compared with 38 of the 64 people on IVC.

Among those on MMF, 14 experienced complete remission and 21 had partial remission, compared with four complete remissions and 14 partial remissions among those on IVC.

Severe infections were also less common in patients receiving MMF.

"The results of this study support the conclusion that treatment with MMF is an appropriate alternative to IVC for induction therapy of severe lupus nephritis," lead researcher Dr. Ellen Ginzler, a professor of medicine and chief of rheumatology at State University of New York, says in a news release.

"Lupus patients and their physicians have the opportunity to consider lifestyle options and possible medication side effects in the selection of a treatment regimen for lupus nephritis," Ginzler says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about systemic lupus erythematosus.

SOURCE: American College of Rheumatology, news release, Oct. 25, 2003
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