A recent study shows that the cancer
drug rituximab may benefit lupus patients
with central nervous system complications.
Researchers claim that it is "a kinder,
gentler form of treatment?with a low risk
of side effects, compared to?high-dose
steroids and chemotherapy," the standard
treatments for the disease.
The 16-month study included 22
patients with lupus. More than 50% were
given rituximab alone, another group took
the drug along with steroids, and a third
group took it with the chemotherapy
agent cyclophosphamide. Sixteen of the
patients showed significant improvement
in their conditions. Brain scans showed
improvements in adverse effects caused
by the disease.
Another study showed rituximab to be
effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis
as well. This study included 465 men and
women who had had arthritis for ~10
years. The results of the 24-week study
showed that 2 different doses of rituximab
were both effective in treating the disease,
with the higher dose having the
greatest effect. Researchers found that
the drug targets a specific type of immune
cell and helps control inflammation and
pain in arthritis patients.