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Researchers in the United Kingdom say that the anti-rejection medication sirolimus (Rapamune) allows for the early withdrawal of the anti-rejection drug cyclosporine in people who have had a kidney transplant.

Reporting their results in the September issue of Transplantation, researchers Robert W.G. Johnson and colleagues at the Manchester Royal Infirmary in Manchester, United Kingdom, randomized 525 kidney transplant patients at 57 transplant centers throughout Europe, Australia and Canada.

According to the Transplantation study, “Three months after transplantation, 430 patients were randomized either to have cyclosporine withdrawn and the [Rapamune] dose increased according to blood levels.” The remainder of the patients remained on a “triple-drug therapy” of Rapamune, cyclosporine and steroids.

According to PR Newswire, 12 months after the kidney transplant, the cyclosporine-free patients showed significant improvement in kidney function. Hyper-tension, cyclo-sporine-associated kidney toxicity and excess uric acid in the blood were also significantly less frequent in the cyclosporine-free group.

The researchers note, “It will clearly be important to follow the patients in this study for several years to see if the observed benefits of this protocol translate into better clinical outcomes.”

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