It is a routine practice to prescribe drugs called immunosuppressant to transplant patients to prevent the transplanted organs from being rejected. The medical community has only been interested in worrying about the problems caused due to immunosuppression. Looking at the other side of the coin, there seems to be benefits as well.
It has been found out that the immunosuppressive drug mycophenolate mofetil, used to prevent rejection of transplanted hearts, kidneys and livers, may also be effective in controlling inflammatory eye diseases.
"The drug seemed to be effective even in patients who had failed treatment from other immunosuppressive drugs," says lead author Jennifer E. Thorne, M.D., an assistant professor of ophthalmology.
Physicians gave the drug to 84 patients, of whom 61 percent had uveitis (intraocular inflammation), 17 percent had scleritis (inflammation of the outer wall of the eye), 11 percent had mucous membrane pemphigoid (a condition causing scarring of the eyelids) and 11 percent had inflammation behind the eye or in other areas.
Patients took two pills each morning and two each evening, for a total dose of 2 grams daily. Thirty-six patients (43 percent) already had been treated with at least one other immunosuppressive drug.
The results revealed that 81 patients (97 percent) had control of their ocular inflammation after one month of treatment. Eighty-two percent of patients had control of their inflammation and were able to taper their dose of the steroid prednisone to 10 or fewer milligrams daily.
Side effects such as stomach upset or mild diarrhoea warranted the withdrawal of seven patients from the study. However, these side effects can be minimized by reducing the dosage of the drug in most of the cases, which offers a new ray of hope in the treatment of eye disorder.