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Seminars in oncology

An old drug for a new disease: pentostatin (Nipent) in acute graft-versus-host disease.


PMID 10877057

Abstract

Bone marrow transplantation has become the modality of choice for a number of malignant conditions. One of the primary causes of morbidity and mortality following bone marrow transplantation is graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Moderate to severe acute GVHD affects 9% to 35% of patients undergoing standard allogeneic bone marrow transplantation. The incidence of chronic GVHD is approximately 40% to 50%. In our experience at Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, patients with stages 2, 3, and 4 acute GVHD had median survivals of only 5.4, 3.6, and 2.5 months, respectively, despite treatment. Patients with chronic GVHD do not fare much better. Their overall 10-year mortality rate remains high at 42%. Significant failure rates and toxicities have been associated with all available therapeutic options for GVHD. Pentostatin (Nipent; SuperGen, San Ramon, CA) is currently used to treat a variety of hematologic malignancies. In addition to its antineoplastic effects, considerable immunosuppressive properties have been reported. Pentostatin affects the immune system by decreasing lymphocyte number and function. Its immunosuppressive effect has promise for the treatment of GVHD and warrants further study.