Therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) is a novel method for patients with scleroderma that may revolutionize the treatment of the disease and is considered a new hope for patients. The technique was recently presented at the American Society for Apheresis (ASFA) 2016 Annual Meeting in a presentation titled “Therapeutic Plasma Exchange for the Treatment of Systemic Scleroderma: A Comprehensive Review and Analysis.”
During a TPE procedure, a large amount of blood is collected from the patient in a continuous flow so that the main components in the blood can be separated. The division is made through a centrifugal process in order to remove harmful antibodies from the plasma. After that, the extracted cells are combined again, and a plasma replacement such as sterilized albumin is added. The TPE process is explained in this video by the Mayo Clinic’s neurologist, Brian Weinshenker, MD.
However, no one is better to explain the function and benefits of TPE in the treatment of systemic scleroderma than Dr. Edward Harris, who was responsible for the review and analysis of published data about TPE that resulted in the ASFA presentation. The investigator has studied the therapeutic option and demonstrated that it is a safe option for stoping or reversing scleroderma progression, as he explained in an exclusive interview for Scleroderma News.
In his presentation, Edward Harris reported on 40 publications, with a total of 533 patients, covering the use of TPE in scleroderma. The conclusions of the studies revealed that TPE is able to improve blood viscosity, and particularly digital ulcers and Raynaud’s symptoms. The treatment was also considered safe, with a three percent rate of side effects, all mild. Among Harris’ achievements is also the creation of the Scleroderma Education project, which aims to improve patients’ and physicians’ understanding about scleroderma.
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