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ANTI-REJECTION DRUG SHOWS EARLY SUCCESS

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An experimental drug that prevents the rejection of transplanted organs has shown stunning early success and is being touted as a wonder drug, according to a report.

The drug, FK-506, has produced fewer side effects than cyclosporine, the major anti-rejection drug now being used, and has proved more effective, The New York Times reported.The new drug has reversed the rejection of transplanted livers in some patients taking cyclosporine, it said.

But the apparent success of the drug, derived from a fungus found in Japan, could worsen the already high shortage of donor organs because it would greatly increase the number of successful organ transplants, scientists said.

Some 30,000 organs are transplanted worldwide every year, a figure that is limited mainly by the shortage of organs, the report said.

The drug is made by the Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. of Osaka, Japan. It was developed by a team headed by Dr. Thomas E. Starzl at the University of Pittsburgh, the world's largest transplant center.

Starzl, a pioneer in organ transplants, has expressed confidence the drug will eventually replace cyclosporine. He called FK-506 "a miraculous drug, a wonder drug, one of those drugs that comes along once in a lifetime."