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Imatinib Reduces Cutaneous Systemic Sclerosis Symptoms

Trial indicates acceptable safety and tolerability, with common but mostly mild adverse effects

MONDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- Imatinib mesylate is well tolerated by patients with diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis (dcSSc) with improvement in skin thickening and forced vital capacity (FVC), according to a study published online March 11 in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Robert F. Spiera, M.D., from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, and colleagues assessed the safety and efficacy of imatinib mesylate in the treatment of dcSSc. Twenty-four patients with dcSSc underwent pulmonary function tests, chest X-rays, echocardiographies, and skin biopsies at baseline and after 12 months of daily treatment with 400 mg imatinib. Patients were monitored every month for safety, and every three months for Modified Rodnan skin scores (MRSS).

The investigators identified 171 adverse events (AEs) possibly related to imatinib, 97.6 percent of which were grade 1 or 2. Two of the 24 serious AEs identified were attributed to imatinib. A reduction in MRSS in patients with both early- and late-stage disease was evident at six months, and there was a 22.4 percent decrease in MRSS by 12 months. Patients exhibited a 6.4 percent improvement in FVC, stable diffusion capacity, stable or improved quality of life, significant decreases in skin thickness, and improved morphology.

"Our results indicate acceptable safety and tolerability, and suggest the potential efficacy of imatinib for cutaneous and pulmonary manifestations of dcSSc, as well as benefit in patient-derived subjective outcomes," the authors write.

The study was partially funded by Novartis, which also provided the drug for the study.

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