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AIDS Research "Spin-off" -- Ganciclovir CMV Prevention After


AIDS Treatment News Issue #227, July 21, 1995

One part of the case for AIDS research funding is that this research advances our understanding of the immune system, which is critically important in many other diseases, including cancer and many autoimmune conditions. But it can be hard to identify concrete benefits, because it takes time for the new knowledge to be applied in other diseases -- especially so for results from basic research, which can ultimately be most important.

One clear example of an AIDS research "spin-off" helping in the treatment of other conditions is the use of ganciclovir for preventing CMV infection in transplant patients -- who are vulnerable to infections because of the immune- suppressive drugs they must take. A recent study tested ganciclovir in 250 liver-transplant patients.(1) Despite conventional preventive treatment with high-dose acyclovir, CMV infection occurs in 10 to 50 percent of these patients. When CMV disease develops, it can cause death; and hospitalization costs are estimated at $10,000 to $50,000 per case.

Ganciclovir prophylaxis for 100 days after surgery greatly reduced CMV infection (to 5%, vs. 38% with acyclovir) and symptomatic CMV disease (to less than 1%, from 10% with acyclovir; the only patient who got CMV disease while taking ganciclovir had received a liver from a donor with CMV hepatitis). Side effects were minimal. Intravenous ganciclovir was used in this research, but oral ganciclovir, now being tested in other studies, may also prove effective.

Ganciclovir would probably never have been developed if it had not been needed for AIDS. Now it has proven benefit in liver transplantation, and probably equal benefit in other organ transplantation as well.

References 1. Winston DJ, Wirin D, Shaked A, and Busuttil RW. Randomized comparison of ganciclovir and high-dose acyclovir for long- term cytomegalovirus prophylaxis in liver-transplant recipients. The Lancet. July 8, 1995; volume 346, page 69.


Copyright © 1995 -AIDS Treatment News, Publisher. All rights reserved to AIDS Treatment News (ATN), Email AIDS Treatment News .

Information in this article was accurate in July 21, 1995. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.