Rituxan effective against more than just lymphoma

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The monoclonal antibody Rituxan (rituximab), FDA approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and B-cell lymphomas such as follicular lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), either as a single agent or in conjunction with existing combination chemotherapy regimens (such as R-CHOP) may also be effective in treating a blood vessel disease.

Severe vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels that causes tissue and organ damage, and sometimes can cause death. This life-threatening disease has generally been treated with the chemotherapeutic agent cyclophosphamide, which can come with its own set of health issues, including infertility and cancer.

According to the findings of a recent double-blind, multicenter Phase III clinical trial, rituximab worked equally as well as cyclophosphamide in putting one of two very common types of ANCA-associated vasculitis, severe Wegener's granulomatosis and microscopic polyangiitis, into remission, but did so without the potentially devastating side effects of cyclophosphamide.

By Ross Bonander

Citation

Jones RB et al. "Rituximab versus Cyclophosphamide in ANCA-Associated Renal Vasculitis." N Engl J Med. 2010 363: 211-220.

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