The life-saving qualities of a new anti-rejection drug, FK506, could have been missed when animal experiments suggested it was too toxic for human use(1). The tests were carried out at Cambridge University in England and showed that "...animal toxicity was too severe to proceed to clinical trial"(2). US researchers, however, decided it was worthy of further investigation but nevertheless did not feel justified in first giving the drug to healthy volunteers, the usual practice in drug development, since this could be "potentially dangerous." (3) Instead, FK506 was administered as a last chance option to liver transplant patients in "desperate plight". So far clinical experience with FK506 has been very promising.4
Animal tests also proved misleading in suggesting that FK506 would give better results if combined with another antirejection drug, cyclosporin. However, clinical trials revealed the opposite, with FK506 actually increasing the kidney damage caused by cyclosporin.3
1) R Allison, Journal of the American Medical Association, 1990. April 4, 1766.
2) R.Y.Cabne et al, Lancet. 1989, July 22, 227.
3) T.E.Starzl et al, Lancet, 1989, October 28, 1000-1004.
4) J Neuberger, Hepatology, 1991, vol.13, 1259-1260.
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