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Cancer drug may heal kidney damage


WASHINGTON Italian scientists have found that a cancer drug can also treat a common kidney disease, according to Reuters.

The researchers found that rituximab, which Genentech and Biogen Idec sell under the brand name Rituxan, can heal kidney damage caused by membranous nephropathy.

Membranous nephropathy results from stray immune cells attacking the kidneys and leads to kidney failure in 30 to 40 percent of patients, affecting around two out of 10,000 people. The researchers said Rituxan might be able to cure the disease in some people.

Rituxan had sales of $2.285 billion in 2007, according to Genentech’s annual report, which also announced that the company wants to extend Rituxan to treat early-stage rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus.

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