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Therapeutic apheresis

Blood may contain substances that are harmful and cause disease, in addition to being unnecessary. Therapeutic apheresis was developed to remove these substances and thereby purify the blood. The medical term apheresis means “a taking away” in ancient Greek.
Today, therapeutic apheresis is used to treat a wide range of conditions including autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis, neurological disorders, lipid abnormalities and chronic hepatitis C. It also has potential as a treatment for intractable diseases without effective therapies and in cases where exposure to drugs must be restricted because of side effects.

A “subtractive” therapy with few side effects

In contrast to medication, which is additive in nature, therapeutic apheresis is a subtractive therapy. Therapeutic apheresis is a new approach that holds promise for treating ailments that do not respond well to existing drugs or conventional therapies.
Also, unlike treatment with drugs, therapeutic apheresis does not put foreign substances into the body, so it has few side effects. It offers hope as a therapy that provides relief to the patient when exposure to drugs must be restricted, as in the case of pregnant women, infants and young children.

Technological progress expands treatment possibilities

Therapeutic apheresis is indicated for more and more conditions. Currently these number more than 30, including diseases of the digestive system, kidneys, skin and nervous system as well as in organ transplants and sepsis syndrome. Recently developed therapeutic apheresis methodologies aim to work in synergy with conventional therapies. These new apheresis approaches use selectively adsorbent materials to remove particular substances, depending on the illness. An example is leukocytapheresis (LCAP), which removes self-reactive granulocytes and lymphocytes. The treatment mechanism of therapeutic apheresis also holds potential as a life-saving emergency procedure and for an expanding variety of chronic cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological, and other disorders, not to mention applications in palliative medicine and preventive medicine.

Returning purified blood to the body

In this therapy, the individual’s blood is circulated through a special apparatus outside the body. The apparatus uses membrane separation and/or adsorption technologies to remove harmful substances (autoantibodies, harmful metabolites, toxins, abnormal proteins, etc.), cells (self-reactive leukocytes, platelets, etc.), and viruses. The purified blood is then returned to the body.
Depending on the disease or condition, the particular substances removed and the details of the procedure will vary, but all forms of therapeutic apheresis are based on the same concept of treating disease by removing substances from the blood.

Diagram of therapeutic apheresis

Blood is circulated outside the body (extracorporeal circulation) and purified by removing harmful substances or undesirable cells. Blood is returned to the body in nearly the natural state,
Harmful substances: autoantibodies, inflammatory substances, harmful metabolites, toxins, abnormal proteins, etc.),
Cells: Self-reactive leukocytes, platelets, etc.

Patients and Families

For the general public: An introduction to therapies and Asahi Kasei Medical’s approach.

Blood and Blood Therapy

A basic explanation of blood constituents and their functions, and how these relate to removal of harmful substances through therapeutic apheresis.

About Blood Purification Therapy

About the life-supporting functions of blood and therapies that utilize these functions.

We are restricted by law from replying to inquiries regarding the therapeutic effects or side effects of therapeutic methods or our products. Please consult with your healthcare provider or a medical institution.

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