Each year, an estimated 70,000 people globally are diagnosed with the disorder, called idiopathic membranous nephropathy.
Washington, DC (July 19, 2012) — A drug commonly used to treat immune disorders such as lymphoma and arthritis also benefits patients with an immune disorder of the kidneys that can lead to kidney failure, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of new study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). The findings could help people who are living with the condition, called idiopathic membranous nephropathy (IMN), avoid taking the potentially toxic medications that are currently prescribed to treat it.
Standard therapy for IMN includes nonspecific immunosuppression with steroids and other agents that do not work in all patients and can cause serious complications. Because the drug rituximab specifically targets immune cells involved in the development and progression of IMN, Piero Ruggenenti, MD, Giuseppe Remuzzi, MD, FRCP (Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research and Ospedali Riuniti, in Bergamo, Italy) and their colleagues tested its safety and effectiveness in 100 patients with IMN. The looked to see how many patients experienced complete or partial remission, based on the amount of protein excreted in the urine.
Among the major findings:
"Rituximab may lead to major progress in the treatment of patients with idiopathic membranous nephropathy, and in consideration of its excellent safety profile, it might replace other toxic regimens as first line treatment of this disease," said Dr. Remuzzi.
An added benefit of rituximab is that it can be administered in one single intravenous infusion on an outpatient basis, while courses of steroids and other drugs for IMN require at least six months of continued treatment and often cause patients to become hospitalized due to complications.