We are pleased to announce that a new research paper titled Therapeutic plasma exchange in the treatment of systemic sclerosis: A comprehensive review and analysis has just been published online by the Journal of Scleroderma and Related Disorders. The CEO of the Scleroderma Education Project (Ed Harris) is the lead author. The four co-authors are researchers with expertise in diverse fields including rheumatology, immunology, apheresis, and blood rheology.

Here is the abstract:

Therapeutic plasma exchange has been tried as a treatment approach for systemic sclerosis since 1978 based on the rationale that some circulating factor is involved in disease pathogenesis, for example, autoantibodies or immune complexes, and that removing the potential pathogenic factors could lead to symptom improvement. Based on our impression that clinicians and researchers are largely unaware that a large volume of research has been published about the use of therapeutic plasma exchange as a treatment for systemic sclerosis, we conducted a comprehensive review and analysis of all published research on this topic.

We identified 46 relevant articles that met our search criteria, involving a total of 572 patients. Of these, 19 were case studies; the rest ranged from small observational studies to prospective randomized clinical trials. In all but two studies, most patients receiving therapeutic plasma exchange showed improvements in both clinical symptoms and laboratory markers, including significant improvement in Raynaud’s symptoms and healing of digital ulceration after three to four weekly treatments. The beneficial effects from even a short course of therapeutic plasma exchange treatments were long-lasting, typically 6 months or longer. Therapeutic plasma exchange was very well tolerated. Adverse events were rare and, in almost all cases, mild and transitory.

These results suggest that long-term therapeutic plasma exchange may offer a low-risk way to control and in some cases reverse systemic sclerosis symptoms. The mechanism for the clinical improvements seen from therapeutic plasma exchange in systemic sclerosis patients is unclear. Therefore, additional studies of therapeutic plasma exchange effects in systemic sclerosis appear to be highly desirable.”

Here is a link to the online version of the paper: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2397198318758606. It will be published in print form later this year. You can download a PDF version of the article for offline reading. While the TPE review paper is written using medical terminology, many of you will have no problem understanding most of the information in the paper.

(Note: normally, if you want to read a review paper published in the “Journal of Scleroderma and Related Disorders”, you would have to pay a fee of €36 (about $44). However, the Scleroderma Education Project paid the $2400 fee to have this article published Open Access and thus freely available for anyone to read online or download. If any of you are in a position to help to defray some of this cost, please Donate to the Scleroderma Education Project. This will support our education and research efforts as well.)

Question: We have been asked about presenting a Webinar about therapeutic plasma exchange where we would give an overview of the published research and answer any questions you might have about TPE. How many of you would be interested in such a presentation?

Please feel free to follow-up here with any comments and questions.