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Sunday 01 January 2006

Rituximab for congenital haemophiliacs with inhibitors: a Canadian experience.

By: Carcao M, St Louis J, Poon MC, Grunebaum E, Lacroix S, Stain AM, Blanchette VS, Rivard GE; Inhibitor Subcommittee of Association of Hemophilia Clinic Directors of Canada.

Haemophilia 2006 Jan;12(1):7-18

When a high titre inhibitor develops in a patient with haemophilia, attempts are made to eradicate it through immune tolerance induction therapy (ITI) involving the frequent and regular administration of factor, usually for months to years. ITI is successful in only two thirds of patients prompting investigators to explore alternate regimens to use in haemophiliacs failing conventional ITI. Rituximab is an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody, which has shown promise in the treatment of B-cell-mediated disorders. We developed a protocol for the use of rituximab in haemophilia A (HA) patients failing conventional ITI or in those haemophiliacs where the likelihood of success of conventional ITI is poor. Patients receive 375 mg m(-2) of intravenous rituximab weekly for 4 weeks followed by monthly (up to 5 months) until inhibitor disappearance and establishment of normal FVIII pharmacokinetics (recovery and half-life). Patients are concurrently placed on recombinant FVIII (100 U kg(-1) day(-1)). We have placed five haemophiliacs (four children with severe HA, and one adult with mild HA) on this protocol. In three patients (two with severe HA and one with mild HA) inhibitors disappeared although in neither severe haemophiliac did FVIII pharmacokinetics completely normalize. The fourth patient had a significant drop in inhibitor titres although not a complete disappearance of the inhibitor. All four of these patients ceased bleeding following rituximab. The fifth patient had no response to rituximab. This non-responding patient was not placed on concurrent FVIII. Our five cases suggest that rituximab may hold promise in the eradication of inhibitors. Prospective randomized studies are required to determine the value of this agent in inhibitor management.

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