Friday, June 17, 2011

FDA approves Belatacept (NULOJIX) for use in kidney transplantation.

It’s been a long time since the FDA approved a new drug for transplantation which makes this news very exciting.  On June 16th Bristol-Myers Squibb announced that the FDA approved the use of NULOJIX (Belatacept) for use in kidney transplantation as an induction and maintenance agent in combination with mycophenolate mofetil and corticosteroids.  The FDA reviewed the Benefit and Benefit EXT trials prior to coming to their conclusion. 
Belatacept is a selective T-cell co-stimulation blocker that is administered IV which offers comparable results to cyclosporine.  Though the acute rejection rate seems to be slightly higher with Belatacept than cyclosporine, trials reveal a higher GFR in the Belatacept arms at 3 years of follow up.  The obvious hope is that the use of Belatacept will avoid calcineurin inhibitor nephrotoxicity in kidney transplant recipients improving long term allograft outcome.  The major concern with Belatacept is an increased risk for PTLD seen in many of the trials.  For this reason it is contraindicated in EBV seronegative patients or patients with unknown EBV serostatus.  To address the concern of PTLD Bristol-Myers Squibb established the ENLiST Registry.  The registries purpose is to determine the incidence of PTLD, CNS PTLD, and PML in US adult EBV seropositive kidney transplant recipients treated with Belatacept.
Belatacept is administered IV over 30 minutes and the recommended dosing is 10 mg/kg on the day of transplantation then on day 5, then at the end of weeks 2, 4, 8, and 12. After week 16 it is recommended that the maintenance dose be 5 mg/kg every 4 weeks.

by Dr. Vinay Nair

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