Oregon Health & Science University cardiologist Ray Hershberger, M.D., was the lead author of the study.
"This is a key study that helps us understand one additional immunosuppressive strategy that can be used. Every patient has different reactions when they receive a new heart, so it's valuable to have several options that allow us to tailor our treatment to their needs," said Hershberger, director of the OHSU Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation Program and professor of medicine (cardiology) at the OHSU School of Medicine. His team enrolled more than 30 patients in the study, the largest number from one medical center.
About 2,100 heart transplants are performed every year in the United States, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.
The first year following a heart transplant is the most dangerous period for patients because the drug therapy they need to prevent their body from rejecting the new organ can increase their risk for life-threatening infections. The challenge has been to find a drug that can prevent rejection, but not increase the risk for infection.
The study focused on whether daclizumab could prevent organ rejection. It compared 434 patients who had received their first heart transplant and were randomly assigned in a double-blind manner to receive five doses of daclizumab or a placebo during a seven-week period. Thirty-one transplantation centers around the world enrolled patients in the study between Aug. 28, 1999, and April 29, 2001.
Following transplantation, all patients in the study received the standard anti-rejection therapy, a combination of cyclosporine, mycophenol
Contact: Christine Pashley
Oregon Health & Science University