Cancer drug effectively treats transplant rejections

December 27, 2008,

University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers have discovered a new therapy for transplant patients, targeting the antibody-producing plasma cells that can cause organ rejection.

Results of the study are published in the Dec. 27, 2008, edition of the journal Transplantation.

Steve Woodle, MD, and colleagues found that a cancer drug—bortezomib—used to treat multiple myeloma, or cancer of the plasma cells, is effective in treating rejection episodes caused by antibodies that target transplanted kidneys and reversing rejection episodes that did not respond to standard therapies.

B-lymphocytes, or B cells, play a large role in the humoral immune response by making immune proteins that attack transplanted organs.

"We found a body of literature demonstrating that bortezomib works well in suppressing transplant rejection in the laboratory," says Woodle, lead author of the study and chief of transplant surgery at UC. "Moreover, it worked well in models of autoimmune diseases."

T-lymphocytes, or T cells, are white blood cells that were commonly thought to cause the rejection of transplanted organs.

Woodle and his team began searching for agents that targeted plasma cells in 2005.

"It has become clear that plasma cells and the antibodies they produce play a bigger role in rejection than previously thought, and the development of therapies targeting these cells has lagged," he says. "We realized that current therapies don't target the plasma cells which may produce the antibody, in general."

Researchers administered this drug to six kidney transplant recipients with treatment-resistant organ rejection, evaluating and recording their responses to the treatment.

In each case, treatment with the drug provided prompt rejection reversal, prolonged reductions in antibody levels and improved organ function with suppression of recurrent rejection for at least five months.

Jason Everly, a board-certified oncology pharmacist in the division of transplant surgery at UC and co-author of the study, says the toxicities associated with this drug were predictable and manageable and were much less than those associated with other anti-cancer agents.

"We are pleased to see its toxicities are similar in transplant recipients suffering from treatment-resistant mixed organ rejection," he adds. "We hope it will be a viable therapeutic treatment option in this patient group."

Woodle says although this data is promising, it is difficult to overestimate the implications of this drug.

"We have an immunosuppressive agent that for the first time can target antibody-producing plasma cells with an efficacy similar to drugs that target T cells," he says. "This has significant implications for transplantation and auto immune disease."

UC researchers are currently conducting four industry-supported clinical trials to expand these findings.

Source: University of Cincinnati

Explore further: Long-term prevention of organ rejection

Related Stories

Long-term prevention of organ rejection

December 8, 2017
The Konstanz immunologist Professor Marcus Groettrup and his team have developed a procedure for preventing organ rejection in rats after renal transplantation, and for suppressing the creation of antibodies in the recipients' ...

Anti-cancer drug fights immune reaction in some infants with Pompe disease

October 11, 2012
Adding a third anti-cancer agent to a current drug cocktail appears to have contributed to dramatic improvement in three infants with the most severe form of Pompe disease—a rare, often-fatal genetic disorder characterized ...

Using your own stem cells to help your body heal osteoarthritis

July 31, 2017
The truth came crashing home last year—a perfect storm of faulty genetics, the unrelenting march of age, and every athletic mishap I've ever stumbled through.

Researchers discover test for earlier detection of transplant rejection

March 20, 2017
Approximately 30,000 organ transplants occur in the United States each year. However, between 20 and 50 percent—depending on the organ type—of the transplanted organs fail within five years, most often because the recipient's ...

Ultrashort cell-free DNA reveals health of organ transplants

July 7, 2016
When cells die, whether through apoptosis or necrosis, the DNA and other molecules found in those cells don't just disappear. They wind up in the blood stream, where degraded bits and pieces can be extracted.

New drug therapies for pre-kidney transplant show promise

June 9, 2016
Early findings by researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine suggest that the use of a second generation cancer drug, carfilzomib, may provide an improved approach for the reduction of antibodies ...

Recommended for you

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.