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Mayo Clinic finds effective treatment with minimal side effects for non-renal lupus

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Mayo Clinic investigators have found that the medication mycophenolate mofetil is effective for managing symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most common type of lupus, for patients whose SLE does not affect the kidneys. Importantly, the researchers say the drug is well tolerated and has fewer side effects than many other medications used to treat the disease.

"This would be considered a nice addition to medications we can use for these patients -- an alternative and widely applicable to many patients," says Kevin Moder, M.D., Mayo Clinic rheumatologist, who will present the findings at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in San Antonio, Texas (http://www.rheumatology.org/annual/index.asp).

Patients who have SLE, an autoimmune, inflammatory disease, may experience symptoms from fevers to joint pain to excessive fatigue to hair loss, among others. The disease also may affect major organs, and the kidneys are especially vulnerable. SLE affecting the kidneys is treated differently from non-renal SLE. Mycophenolate mofetil has been shown to be helpful in patients with lupus affecting the kidneys. The new Mayo Clinic research indicates, however, that the drug could help many more lupus patients.

Currently, there is no curative treatment for SLE. Also, many medications used to treat this disease have considerable side effects. For example, Dr. Moder explains that one currently available immunomodulatory treatment, cyclophosphamide, puts patients at risk for infertility and cancer.

"It's a significant step if the medication is effective but has fewer side effects than many medications currently used to treat lupus," says Dr. Moder.

Dr. Moder explains that while mycophenolate mofetil helps many patients, it's not 100 percent effective. He descr
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