Sirolimus Effectively Halts Kaposi’s Sarcoma in Renal Transplant Patients

Cancer Connect

A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that the drug Sirolimus inhibits the progression of Kaposis sarcoma among kidney transplant patients in addition to providing effective immunosuppression.

Organ transplant recipients are often susceptible to a disease known as Kaposis Sarcoma (KS) as a result of immunosuppressive drugs. KS is a cancer-like disease that often effects people with compromised immune systems or those patients who may be on immunosuppressive drugs. In most cases, KS affects the skin, and the lining of the mouth and eyes, although it can spread to other organs of the body. Sirolimus (rapamycin) is an immunosuppressive drug that is thought to have anticancer properties as well.

In this recent study, 15 patients who had received a kidney transplant and were taking cylclosporine for immunosuppression were enrolled. Each of these patients had biopsy proven evidence of Kaposis sarcoma. Cyclosporine therapy was stopped and treatment with Sirolimus was started. All participants underwent a skin biopsy of both a normal skin site and a site affected with a KS lesion at the time Sirolimus therapy began and again 6 months later. Each biopsy specimen was evaluated for the presence of 2 enzymes that are responsible for the growth of KS, and targeted by Sirolimus.

Results of the study found that 3 months after Sirolimus therapy began, all of the KS lesions had disappeared in all of the patients. Follow up at 6 months revealed that remission was achieved in all of the patients. In addition, there were no reported episodes of organ rejection, or changes in the kidney function. Evaluation of the biopsy specimens revealed that the enzymes targeted by Sirolimus was increased in the KS cells and even more so in the normal skin surrounding the KS lesions.

Researchers concluded that Sirolimus effectively inhibits the progression of Kaposis sarcoma as well as providing effective immunosuppression for kidney transplant recipients.

Reference: Stallone G, Shena A, Infante B. et al. Sirolimus for Kaposis Sarcoma in Renal Transplant Recipients. New England Journal of Medicine. 2005;352: 1317-1323.

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