Whitney Palmer

Healthcare. Politics. Family.

Lung Scarring Systemic Sclerosis

Published on the Nov. 9, 2015, Rheumatology Network website

By Whitney L.J. Howell

Patients with systemic sclerosis who take cyclophosphamide or mycophenolate mofitil both experience nearly the same decrease in lung scarring, according to a small study.

Neither medication is superior in reducing lung scarring and improving skin tightness. Rheumatologists can now better understand the agents’ safety profiles and know more about how to prescribe them and monitor results to help patients live longer with better lives.

In a presentation given on Nov. 8, at the 2015 ACR/ARHP annual meeting in San Francisco, Calif., University of California-Los Angeles rheumatologist Philip Clements, MD, revealed patients with systemic sclerosis experienced equivalent improvement with interstitial lung disease when taking both cyclophosphamide and mycophenolate mofitil.

“Both medications have now been shown to be effective in slowing down the scarring of the lungs in fibrosis,” Clements said. “Hopefully, this will leave patients with less breathlessness, less new fibrosis, more functionality, and longer lives. That’s what we’d really like to see happen.”

Overall, Clements said, 70 percent of patients achieved improved vital capacity in lung function, and 70 percent with thick skin experienced skin softening and thinning for improved joint function.

All total, 106 participants were divided into two groups: (1) oral cyclophosphamide 2kg/mg/day for a year, followed by a placebo and (2) oral mycophenolate mofitial 2kg/mg/day up to 1,500 mg BID for two years. Baseline characteristics for both groups were the same.

At study’s end, improvements in forced vital capacity were roughly the same. In the transition dyspnea index, there was an increase of 2.24 with cyclophosphamide versus 1.86 with mycophenolate mofitil. With modified Rodnan skin scoring, there was a decline of 6.1 with cyclophosphamide versus 2.9 with mycophenolate mofitil.

Nearly twice as many participants taking cyclophosphamide came off the medication for intolerance versus those taking mycophenolate mofitil.

To read the story at its original location: http://www.rheumatologynetwork.com/acr2015-rn/lung-scarring-systemic-sclerosis

November 9, 2015 Posted by | Healthcare | , , , , | Leave a comment

Alleviating Side Effects of Bone Marrow Transplants With Photopheresis Therapy

Published in the Children’s Mercy Hospitals & Clinics-Kansas City website

By Whitney L.J. Howell

For the past decade, Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics’ Jignesh Dalal, MD, has worked to perfect a widely used therapy that reduces bone marrow rejection, making it safe for children.

Within the past year, supported by a $120,000 grant from the Midwest Cancer Alliance, Dr. Dalal and his colleagues have designed photopheresis for pediatric patients for treatment of graft-versus-host disease. To date, they have completed this therapy in many patients, demonstrating photopheresis can be tolerated in children.

“We’ve shown we can successfully do this in children,” says Dr. Dalal, Chief of Bone Marrow Transplantation Section. “Taking blood out of a child’s body can be dangerous. But we’ve done it and alleviated the difficult side effects that come with a bone marrow transplant.”

After mixing a bowl of blood with psoralen, they expose cells to ultraviolet light, killing reactive lymphocytes. Then, they infuse the blood back in to help generate tolerance. The machine designed for children uses a smaller bowl and circuit size, decreasing the time blood is outside the body.

After the procedure, Dr. Dalal and his colleagues monitor patients very closely. For two months post-transplant, they check in with patients twice a week. The frequency falls to twice every 15 days for the following six months.

During this time, our research team monitors B-cells and T-cells at two-month, four-month and six-month intervals. Doing so helps them determine how the body generates tolerance and which immune system cells play the biggest roles in the process. If the cells are imbalanced, putting a child at risk for graft-versus-host disease, the team attempts to push them back into equilibrium.

So far, Dr. Dalal says, the results have been very encouraging.

Of the nine patients currently enrolled in the study, five have completed the photopheresis therapy. According to Dr. Dalal, between 50% and 60% of patients experience positive benefits, including increased energy, skin loosening, decreased eye and mouth dryness, and an overall improved quality of life.

“We’re seeing the positive effect of the photopheresis appear between four to six weeks after transplant, and the peak benefit comes at around four to six months,” Dr. Dalal says. “From what we’ve seen, that positive effect remains.”

Understanding how cells generate tolerance has broader-reaching implications. With this knowledge our team could ultimately reduce rejection rates for solid organ transplants or improve treatments for lupus and scleroderma.

The result of our team’s work is a significant step forward. Successful photopheresis eliminates the need for immune-suppressive drugs, making children less vulnerable to viral, fungal or bacterial infections that can attack their comprised immune systems.

In addition, the team is currently analyzing data for its next challenge – understanding the chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide.

“This drug isn’t well understood. Currently, we give all patients the same dosage,” Dr. Dalal says. “At Children’s Mercy Hospital, we’re investigating whether genes play a role in how the body metabolizes it and if different doses produce different side effects and desirable effects.”

This continued research strengthens Children’s Mercy’s existing reputation as a world-class pediatric cancer facility bringing cutting-edge therapies to patients.

To read the original story post: http://www.childrensmercy.org/redefine/oncology/article/bonemarrow/

November 21, 2011 Posted by | Healthcare, Science | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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