ACHRI study finds CellCept® improves survival in pediatric heart transplant patients


Little Rock, AR and Philadelphia, PA, April 9, 2005 – Pediatric heart transplant recipients taking the medication CellCept® (mycophenolate mofetil) as part of their anti-rejection treatment regimen experienced significantly fewer early rejection episodes and greatly improved survival, according to a study of nearly 400 pediatric patients, beginning two weeks post-transplant. The study was led by researchers at the Arkansas Children's Research Institute (ACHRI) and results were presented today at the 25th annual meeting of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation in Philadelphia.

"With pediatric heart transplant recipients, it is especially important to focus on long-term transplant success," explained Dr. W. Robert Morrow, chief of pediatric cardiology at Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH) and the Department of Pediatrics in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine, lead investigator of the study. "Our research shows that we can achieve very high survival rates by using therapies such as CellCept in our pediatric transplant recipients."

More than 26,000 American children have received an organ transplant. However, organ rejection remains one of the leading causes of death in transplant recipients, with only half of recipients living longer than nine years.

Morrow and his colleagues in the Pediatric Heart Transplant Study Group compared the incidence of rejection and survival in 395 pediatric patients surviving greater than two weeks post-transplant, ranging in age from one day to 17.9 years, with initial immunosuppression of cyclosporine and either CellCept or azathioprine (AZA). They found that freedom from rejection after 12 months was 10 percent higher with those treated with CellCept (63% of CellCept patients versus 53% of AZA patients). The study also determined that the one-year survival rate was significantly better in CellCept patients (96%), compared to only 87% of the AZA patients.

"It's reassuring to see that, based on this research, the benefits of this therapy for adults are also applicable to pediatric patients," said Dr. Morrow.

Under Dr. Morrow's direction as chief of cardiology since 1996, the pediatric heart transplant program at ACH has consistently been recognized as one of the top programs in the nation. In 1999, the program was named one of the 10 best in the nation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the vital areas of one-year survival rate and speed of transplant receipt. In 2001, ACH became the only children's hospital in the nation approved as a Medicare cardiac transplant center and one of only three approved by the BlueCross BlueShield Association.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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