Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found a link between a drug used to treat autoimmune disease and an increase the risk of myeloid neoplasms in bone marrow disorders.
Azathioprine is a drug commonly used to treat autoimmune disease. Myeloid neoplasms are part of a spectrum of life-threatening bone marrow disorders like myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia.
The study analyzed more than 40,000 patients with 27 autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis over 10 years. Researchers found 86 patients with therapy-related myeloid neoplasm and examined data on each patient's drug exposures, duration and disease characteristics, which were compared to autoimmune patients without bone marrow disorders.
The results showed that only azathioprine was significantly linked with an increased risk of drug-related myeloid neoplasm compared with other drugs used to treat autoimmune disorders.
"Similar associations were already documented in case reports and case series, but have never been evaluated in a broad spectrum of autoimmune diseases in that many patients and in context of individual medications," Dr. Raoul Tibes, Ph.D., former director of the Acute and Chronic Leukemia Program at Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus and senior author of the study said in a press release. "Interestingly, there was no association with length of time on therapy and resulting myeloid neoplasm."
The study was published in JAMA Oncology.
"This study, along with our current knowledge of therapy-related myeloid neoplasm, suggests that individualized drug selection and monitoring during treatment could be possible," Dr. Natalie Ertz-Archambault, co-author of the study, said in a press release. "Future genomic profiling studies may help to identify patients at risk for myeloid neoplasms when exposed to azathioprine or other drugs."