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Rituximab Effective in Treating Chronic Graft-vs-Host Disease

Rituximab Effective in Treating Chronic Graft-vs-Host Disease

A study by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers offers the strongest evidence yet of the effectiveness of rituximab (Rituxan) for chronic graft-vs-host disease (GVHD), a potentially life-threatening complication of donor bone marrow and stem cell transplants.

The use of the drug grew out of recent discoveries about the human immune system and the interactions between transplanted cells and recipients’ own tissue. In the study, posted on the website of the journal Blood (www.bloodjournal.org), researchers found that rituximab reduced the severity of chronic GVHD in 70% of study participants who completed at least one course of treatment, including two who experienced complete remissions of symptoms. The benefits, which continued up to 1 year after therapy, occurred mainly in patients whose skin and musculoskeletal systems were affected by chronic GVHD.

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