What is Photopheresis (ECP) ?

Photopheresis is a safe therapy with very few side effects used to treat skin and other conditions where the white blood cells are thought to be the cause of your condition.

The particular white cell it targets is the T-Cell.

ECP is used to treat conditions that involves T-cell blood modulated conditions such acute and chronic GvHD (Graft versus host disease) and Cutaneous T Cell Lyphoma (CTCL).

Photopheresis treatment primarily involves the patient being attached to a machine either by their central venous line if one is in place or, after having a needle inserted into one of the veins in their arm so that blood can temporarily be drawn from the body.

During treatment the patient's blood is drawn off and centrifuged. The red cells and portion of plasma cells not required are returned to the patient after each cycle whilst the amount of leukocytes or buffy coat and plasma required are isolated for further treatment.

The whole process takes between one and three and a half hours depending on which machine is used. With all treatments only a portion of blood is removed, about a pint, similar to that given when people are blood donors and on completion of the treatment, all blood will have been returned to the patient.

ECP (Extra-corporeal Photopheresis)

Photopheresis is a extracorporeal photo-immune therapy.

Extracorporeal : means outside the body.

Photo: means light.

So Photopheresis is a light activated treatment taking place outside the body.

ECP treatment involves you being attached to a machine either by your central line if one is in place, or by inserting a needle into a vein in your arm (numbing cream is offered if the latter is used). So that blood can be temporarily be drawn from the body

Once attached to the machine blood is drawn from you

It is spun in a centrifuge bowl to separate your blood cells in order for us to collect the white cells needed for treatment.

Any cells not required will be returned to you.

Once all the cells are collected for treatment, Uvadex is added to them to make your T Cells ( white blood cells) sensitive to UVA light. These cells are then photo-activated for a given length of time and returned . Only a small portion of blood will be removed from you about 250-300mls. Each treatment takes between 2-3 hours