The study, which was the first double-blind, placebo-controlled trial ever conducted in lung transplant patients, tested an inhaled form of cyclosporine, a widely used medicine to prevent organ rejection following a transplant.

“Inhaled cyclosporine is the first drug ever to show a decline in the incidence of chronic rejection,” says lead author Aldo T. Iacono, M.D., medical director of lung transplantation at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “In our study, the patients who took the inhaled cyclosporine had a two-thirds reduction in chronic rejection compared to those who had the placebo. The risk of death, adjusting for all other variables, was five times greater in the group of patients who took the placebo than among those on the inhaled cyclosporine,” he adds.

The study included 56 people who had received either a single or a double lung transplant. Within one month following their transplants, they were randomly assigned to take either the inhaled cyclosporine or an inhalable placebo along with traditional anti-rejection therapy. The patients took the inhaled drugs at home three times a week and were followed by the researchers for at least two years.

Of the 26 patients in the study who received the inhaled cyclosporine, 23 were still alive two years later. However, of the 30 patients in the placebo group, only 16 were alive at the two-year point. The researchers report that the death rate in the cyclosporine group was 11 percent during the study compared to 47 percent for the placebo group.

“Our study shows for the first time that inhaled cyclosporine, taken in conjunction with oral anti-rejection medication, can protect patients from chronic rejection, which is the main reason that the average three-year survival rate from lung transplantation is only 55 percent—a much lower rate than for other solid organ transplants, including liver and kidney transplants,” says Dr. Iacono.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Maryland Medical Center