December 2009




Researchers identify alternative treatment for Graves’ disease


A small group of patients with severe Graves’ eye disease experienced rapid improvement of their symptoms—and improved vision—following treatment with rituximab (Rituxan, Genentech, San Francisco).

Rituximab has been used to treat patients with other autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and in non-Hodgkin’s B-cell lymphoma. Raymond S. Douglas, M.D., Ph.D., University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center, Ann Arbor, said the inflammation around six patients’ eyes and damage to the optic nerve were significantly reduced. The same patients had not previously responded to steroids.

According to the study, which is published in the October issue of Ophthalmology rituximab is a potentially effective new treatment for the most severe forms of Graves’ eye disease. “These patients had already received the maximum level of steroid treatment,” Dr. Douglas said. “Treatment with rituximab calmed inflammation, stopped progression of the disease, and saved the patients from having to undergo surgery.”

Dr. Douglas observed improvement among the patients, four of whom were women, as early as four weeks following the first infusion of rituximab. Researchers also observed that the positive results were sustained four to six months after treatment. However, Dr. Douglas said the results from a small case series must be viewed with some caution. But given the substantial benefits for patients treated with rituximab, he sees good reason to proceed with a large-scale clinical trial to test this promising new drug.


Reported by: EyeWorld News Services

Researchers identify alternative treatment for Graves’ disease Researchers identify alternative treatment for Graves’ disease
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