Researchers at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, collaborating with a team of doctors and surgeons, have uncovered how the drug Rituximab, normally used to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, also works to prevent FSGS from recurring in children and young adults with kidney transplants. The drug appears to bind to and preserve a protein (SMPDL-3b) on kidney podocytes. The protein is under-expressed in patients with recurring FSGS. Rituximab stabilizes protein expression, protecting the fiber formation and structure of the podocytes and preserving their filtering ability. One dose of the drug appears to improve kidney function for up to 12 months.
This could greatly impact the 80% of FSGS patients who experience a recurrence of the disease after kidney transplantation. The discovery may help scientists predict which patients are at risk of a recurrence and provides them with vital clues for understanding the cause and development of FSGS at the molecular level.
Physicians Discover How Cancer Drug Works to Help Prevent Recurrent Kidney Disease, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, June 1, 2011