The drug is found to inhibit Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) enzyme to kill certain type of cancer cells. The new trial studies suggest that the drug's BTK inhibition activity and interleukin-2-inducible T-cell kinase (ITK) inhibition activity may be against the two type of immune cells T cells and B cells that are involved in the Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD).
‘Ibrutinib shows promising potential as a new therapy for Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD)’
Stem cell transplantation is a procedure that involves the transfer of blood-forming stem cells from the donor to the patient during cancer or other treatments. This may cause complications like Graft Versus Host Disease which usually occurs when the tissues or cells from the donor does not match with the recipient.
The research study was conducted on 42 patients who had undergone stem cell transplantation. Around 10,000 people in the United States undergo stem cell transplant every year, out of which 4000 people experience Graft Versus Host Disease leading to symptoms like rashes, mouth ulcers, dry eyes, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal problems and decreased motility in joints and limbs.
Corticosteroid therapy is the standard treatment for Graft Versus Host Disease. However they do not benefit all patients, since some patients show symptoms of GVHD despite treatment.
Around 71% of patients showed improvement after five months of Ibrutinib treatment when symptom severity, number of organs affected and biomarkers associated with GVHD were assessed.
About 45% of patients show adverse effects such as pneumonia, fever or septic shock. Other side effects include diarrhea, fatigue, muscle spasm, nausea and bruising.
The research team also said that these adverse effects have initiated the importance of actively monitoring when prescribing the drug.
Miklos, said, "By targeting allogeneic B-cells and TH2 lymphocytes, ibrutinib is targeting a pathogenic mechanism that we believe causes GVHD while leaving protective and anti-tumor cytotoxic T-cells intact."
"This is a targeted therapy that does not just bluntly suppress the immune system; it leaves patients better able to fight their cancer as well as viral infections."
Further research is required to investigate ibrutinib use in the treatment and prevention of Graft Versus Host Disease by comparing it with other agents.