Extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) therapy for palliative care of skin manifestations of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) was approved 30 years ago and remains an important therapeutic tool worldwide.
Mallinckrodt, the world’s only provider of integrated ECP delivery systems, marked the 30th anniversary of Therakos Photopheresis at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Apheresis (ASFA), held May 3-6 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Extracorporeal photopheresis is a technology aiming to modulate the immune system and its reactivity. It requires withdrawing a patient’s blood and separating its components. Setting white blood cells aside from other blood components isolates the diseased cells. Both red blood cells and plasma are then returned to the patient.
The removed white blood cells are mixed with a photosensitizing agent called Uvadex (methoxsalen), which makes the lymphocytes more sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) light. Activation of the cells by UV exposure initiates a reaction that is believed to promote cell death. After this process, the cells are reinfused into the patient.
Although the mechanism of actionis not fully understood, the diseased cells die — the process triggers an immune response against CTCL cells — and new immune cells will be produced to clear them from the body.
“Extracorporeal photopheresis has stood the test of time,” Ellen J. Kim, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Medical Advisory Council Chair of the Cutaneous Lymphoma Foundation, said in a press release. “It was among the earliest U.S. FDA-approved immunotherapies and remains an important option in the treatment of patients who experience skin manifestations of CTCL.”
The first to deliver ECP, the Therakos Photopheresis System was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1987 for the treatment of skin manifestations of CTCL in patients who did not responded to other forms of treatment.
The latest-generation photopheresis platform, Cellex System, has improved some of its original features, allowing a significantly reduced treatment administration time, which ultimately benefits the patient’s quality of life.
“Therakos transformed the field of apheresis 30 years ago with its pioneering ECP technology. Today, Therakos Photopheresis remains a mainstay of treatment for the skin manifestations of CTCL for patients who are no longer responsive to skin-directed therapies,” said Steven Romano, executive vice president and chief scientific officer of Mallinckrodt. “This is a significant milestone for those who understand firsthand the tremendous contribution the technology has made.”