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Rituxan reaches out

For refractory patients with idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP), a disorder characterized by immune-mediated platelet destruction, treatment with Rituxan rituximab represents a new option that generated significant interest at the American Society of Hematology meeting in Orlando last week.

New treatments for ITP patients have been few and far between, with steroids, chemotherapy, and splenectomy as the most common alternatives for patients who fail first line treatment with intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) or anti-D (immunoglobulin therapy with antibodies against the Rh-D red blood cell antigen).

One alternative therapy is the Prosorba column, marketed by Cypress Biosciences Inc. (CYPB, San Diego, Calif.) and partner Fresenius AG (Bad Homburg, Germany). The column, which removes circulating immunoglobulins from blood, requires the patient's plasma to be run through

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