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Valganciclovir May Benefit Liver Transplant Patients

Small study shows antiviral drug clears Epstein-Barr virus in nearly half of infected children

THURSDAY, Aug. 7 (HealthDay News) -- In pediatric liver transplant patients who are infected with Epstein-Barr virus, treatment with valganciclovir may help clear the virus and decrease the risk of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder, according to the results of a study published in the August issue of Liver Transplantation.

Loreto Hierro, M.D., of Hospital Universitario La Paz in Madrid, Spain, and colleagues treated 47 children with valganciclovir (520 mg/sqm twice daily) starting a median of 17 months after the onset of Epstein-Barr virus infection.

After treating 26 patients for 30 days, the researchers found that Epstein-Barr virus was undetectable in 11 of 32 courses (34.3 percent). After treating 42 patients for a median of eight months, they found that Epstein-Barr virus was undetectable in 20 (47.6 percent). Although no new cases of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder were diagnosed, they observed worsening symptoms in one patient with suspected post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder that was not confirmed in liver and jejunum biopsies.

"Given the relatively short follow-up of patients in their study and the fact that less than half of the patients treated with valganciclovir in their cohort experienced clearance of Epstein-Barr virus DNA, we agree with these investigators that additional trials of valganciclovir are needed to establish a beneficial effect of this drug," state the authors of an accompanying editorial.

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