IVIG (immune globulin intravenous) is a human plasma-derived solution that contains antibodies to help protect against infection. Under the brand name Privigen, it is used as a replacement therapy (boosting levels of immunoglobulin G) in people with primary immunodeficiency (PI), and as a treatment for chronic immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) to help raise platelet counts.1 The therapy is being tested to determine its efficacy in scleroderma.
Clinical trials of IVIG for scleroderma
An investigator-initiated study to assess the safety and efficacy of intravenous immunoglobulin in people with scleroderma is currently recruiting participants (NCT01785056) at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins university hospitals. The placebo-controlled and randomized (3:1) trial, to run for one full year, will study the effects of IVIG used on the skin of about 24 scleroderma patients. Investigators hope this treatment will improve disease outcomes, including skin, muscle, joint, gastrointestinal and lung involvement.2 As one of its inclusion criteria is the failure to respond to standard care treatment over the four months prior to the trial’s start, investigators believe that any improvement observed will be due to IVIG treatment.
Because this is a pilot study, larger controlled trials will be needed to clearly demonstrate IVIG’s effectiveness, although signals for a future clinical trial are expected from this study.2
Common IVIG side effects may include mild headache, dizziness, feelings of being tired, back pain, muscle cramps, minor chest pain, and flushing.1
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