Belatacept: from rational design to clinical application.

Article Details


Wekerle T, Grinyo JM

Belatacept: from rational design to clinical application.

Transpl Int. 2012 Feb;25(2):139-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1432-2277.2011.01386.x. Epub 2011 Dec 7.

PubMed ID
22151353 [ View in PubMed

Gradually improved immunosuppression has contributed significantly to the progress achieved in transplantation medicine so far. Nevertheless, current drug regimens are associated with late graft loss--in particular as a result of immunologic damage or drug toxicity--and substantial morbidity. Recently, the costimulation blocker belatacept (marketed under the name Nulojix(R)) has been approved for immunosuppression in renal transplantation. Belatacept (a mutated version of CTLA4Ig) is a fusion protein rationally designed to block CD28, a critical activating receptor on T cells, by binding and saturating its ligands B7-1 and B7-2. In phase II and III trials, belatacept was compared with cyclosporine (in combination with basiliximab, MMF, and steroids). Advantages observed with belatacept include superior graft function, preservation of renal structure and improved cardiovascular risk profile. Concerns associated with belatacept are a higher frequency of cellular rejection episodes and more post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) cases especially in EBV seronegative patients, who should be excluded from belatacept-based regimens. Thus, after almost three decades of calcineurin inhibitors as mainstay of immunosuppression, belatacept offers a potential alternative. In this article, we will provide an overview of belatacept's preclinical development and will discuss the available evidence from clinical trials.

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