CINCINNATI Screening for mutations in a gene that helps the body metabolize a kidney transplant anti-rejection drug may predict which children are at higher risk for side effects, including compromised white blood cell count or organ rejection, according to new research.
Published online Feb. 18 by the Nature journal Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, the study suggests this genetic approach could also help physicians tailor personalized anti-rejection drug doses to prevent adverse reactions, said senior investigators Alexander A. Vinks, Pharm.D., Ph.D., and Jens Goebel M.D., of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
"There are better ways than just giving standard doses of these drugs, and in due course these types of technologies will be available worldwide to help patients," said Dr. Vinks, director of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and the Pediatric Pharmacology Research Unit at Cincinnati Children's. "This pilot study shows personalized and prospective MMF dosing and monitoring may be feasible to reduce the high incidence of drug toxicity in children without compromising the drug's protective effects against kidney graft rejection."
MMF, or Mycophenolate Mofetil, is an immunosuppressive agent commonly used to prevent rejection in organ transplants, particularly in kidney transplants. After taken orally, the drug is quickly processed by the body into active form. During this time, patients with a specific point mutation in the gene that helps break down the drug, UGT, metabolize the drug slower. This point mutation, called UGT1A9-331, causes overexposure and adverse side effects in the affected children, the study concluded. UGT encodes the drug's main metabolizing enzyme in the body, uridine diphosphate-glucuronosyl transferase.
Adverse side effects most commonly linked to MMF have included gastrointestinal complications (such as diarrhea) or leukopenia a drop in white blood cell count
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Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center