Magazine article Science News

Blunting Cyclosporine's Kidney Toxicity

Magazine article Science News

Blunting Cyclosporine's Kidney Toxicity

Article excerpt

Blunting cyclosporine's kidney toxicity

Hailed as a breakthrough in organ transplantation, the drug cyclosporine suppresses the immune system, reducing the chances of transplant rejection. More recently, scientists have been testing the drug as a treatment of uspected autoimmune diseases, such as type I diabetes (SN: 11/7/8, p.292). But cyclosporine is toxic to the kidneys and frequently causes high blood pressure. Now, William M. Bennett of Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland Reports on his research and that of other aimed at minimizing the drug's toxicity.

At the front line of this effort, says Bennett, is the development of more sensitive techniques for monitoring levels of the drug. The most promising of these, he says, are monoclonal antibodies that affix to the drug in the patient's blood. But even when such a test is available, researchers will continue to walk the narrow line between cyclosporine doses that are effective and those that are toxic. According to Bennett, those doses are likely the same--suggesting that it may be beneficial to directly block cyclosporine's constriction of blood vessels supplying the kidneys rather than to rely on dose adjustment alone. Scientists suspect this vessel constriction is the basis for the observed kidney toxicity.

Some researchers are testing drugs that specifically inhibit the synthesis of thromboxanes, substances made by the body that cause vessels to constrict. Two preliminary clinical trials of such drugs have just begun, says bennett. …

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