A new study shows the drug everolimus is better at reducing problems in heart transplant patients than one of the currently used drugs. Specifically the drug reduced the incidence of a serious disorder that can cause deterioration of the graft known as coronary vasculopathy.
Previous studies have shown everolimus combined with another drug reduced the rejection and risk of infection in kidney transplant patients. Researchers from Temple University in Philadelphia conducted a study to determine if everolimus is also effective for heart transplant patients.
For the study, 634 patients were randomly assigned to receive one of two doses of everolimus or another drug, azathioprine, after having a heart transplant. The drugs were given once a day in combination with other standard treatments. Researchers followed patients for one year to determine if they had any complications from the transplant.
Researchers report the patients on either dose of everolimus fared much better than the patients on azathioprine. After one year, researchers say it was clear everolimus was significantly more effective than azathioprine in preventing vasculopathy. Study authors write, "Everolimus combined with cyclosporine and corticosteroids during the first 12 months is a safe and effective immunosuppressant regimen for use in recipients of a first heart transplant."
Researchers say further evaluation and follow-up are needed to determine the optimal dose. However, they say the findings of this study offer some optimism that everolimus is a promising agent for the management of rejection and vasculopathy after heart transplantation.