Rituximab Works for Some Children

Rituximab for idiopathic nephrotic syndrome only works for children who benefit from standard treatment

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Recent studies have identified rituximab (sold as Rituxan) as a possible treatment for a childhood kidney disorder. The drug may allow children to stop taking the standard drug treatment, which can be toxic.

Rituximab may lower urine protein levels (a sign of kidney damage) in children with idiopathic nephrotic syndrome (INS) who respond to standard treatments of steroids and other drugs.

Unfortunately, the drug does not seem to work for children with INS who do not respond to standard treatment.

"Ask your child's doctor about drug options for kidney disease."

INS is a difficult disease to treat. Most children with the disease are treated with steroids and immunosuppressive drugs. These drugs can be dangerous, as they are known to weaken the immune system.

Gian Marco Ghiggeri, M.D., of IRCCS Giannina Gaslini Children Hospital in Genoa, Italy, and colleagues found that rituximab may be able to replace these potentially toxic drugs, but only in those children who benefitted from the standard treatment.

There has been some evidence that rituximab could help children with INS who do not respond to standard treatment. However, Dr. Ghiggeri and colleagues found that rituximab does not lower levels of protein in the urine of children who do not benefit from standard treatment.

These findings give doctors an idea of who can benefit from rituximab and who cannot.

According to Dr. Ghiggeri, "Our work represents a step forward on the road to treating nephrotic syndrome in children."

The negative findings of this study suggest that doctors and scientists need a better understanding of INS in order to make treatments that work for children who do not benefit from standard treatment.

This randomized controlled trial, which involved 31 children with INS, is published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

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Review Date: 
May 13, 2012
Last Updated:
July 9, 2012