A recent study shows that the cancerdrug rituximab may benefit lupus patientswith central nervous system complications.Researchers claim that it is "a kinder,gentler form of treatment?with a low riskof side effects, compared to?high-dosesteroids and chemotherapy," the standardtreatments for the disease.
The 16-month study included 22patients with lupus. More than 50% weregiven rituximab alone, another group tookthe drug along with steroids, and a thirdgroup took it with the chemotherapyagent cyclophosphamide. Sixteen of thepatients showed significant improvementin their conditions. Brain scans showedimprovements in adverse effects causedby the disease.
Another study showed rituximab to beeffective in treating rheumatoid arthritisas well. This study included 465 men andwomen who had had arthritis for ~10years. The results of the 24-week studyshowed that 2 different doses of rituximabwere both effective in treating the disease,with the higher dose having thegreatest effect. Researchers found thatthe drug targets a specific type of immunecell and helps control inflammation andpain in arthritis patients.