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Drug reduces kidney rejection, study says

A new drug designed to reduce rejection in kidney transplant patients has shown promising results, doctors say.

In a report this week in the Lancet medical journal, doctors who tested the drug basiliximab, which is made by Swiss life sciences group Novartis AG, said it "reduced the incidence of acute rejection episodes significantly."Dr. Bjorn Nashan and colleagues in Germany, Britain, Switzerland and France studied 380 adults who were first-time kidney transplant patients. Nearly 200 were given basiliximab on the day of the surgery and four days later and 187 patients received a placebo.

Six months later, 44 percent of the placebo group had acute rejection problems but only 29.8 percent of the patients who had taken baxiliximab.

Acute rejection occurs when the recipient's blood begins to flow through the new organ and white blood cells recognize foreign antigens on the graft cells.

Basiliximab interferes with a protein that causes the proliferation of the white blood cells that form part of the body's immune response to the new organ.

If a transplanted kidney is rejected, the patient can go back to dialysis and may receive another kidney but demand far outweighs supply.

"This study indicates that basiliximab is an immunosuppressant with a simple short-term administrative regimen that has a significant impact on the incidence of acute-rejection episodes, without giving rise to clinically relevant safety or tolerability concerns," Nashan said.