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    Wednesday, June 30, 2004

    Stranger than Fiction: A new therapy for heart failure?

    It sounds like the brainchild of a mad scientist: Draw blood from the arm, heat it up, pump it with oxygen and bombard it with ultraviolet light and then re-inject it into the patient's butt.

    But as strangely unorthodox as it may seem, the process -- called immune modulation therapy -- may well be a legitimate and effective means of treating heart failure.

    ...The key scientific notion here is that inflammation plays a pivotal role in the development and progression of heart failure.

    The new blood-zapping procedure "targets inflammation by kick-starting the immune system's anti-inflammatory response," Dr. Isaac said.

    Immune modulation therapy, a patented therapy developed by Toronto-based Vasogen Inc., involves taking about 10 cubic centimetres of blood (two teaspoons), then putting it into a machine that "stresses" the blood by subjecting it to heat, oxidation, and UV light.

    Those stresses are designed to induce apoptosis (cell death) in white blood cells, those that influence the body's immune response.

    When this zapped blood is re-injected into the patient, the dying cells trigger a powerful immune response.

    Seems about as sound as chelation therapy. And in fact, it is completely experimental. Or, more appropriately, theoretical. It hasn't undergone any sort of trial to test its effectiveness or its safety. But it's cutting edge, so it must be worth a write-up in the paper!

    UPDATE: A reader points out that this is old hat in other ways, too:

    You might be interested to know that the re-injection of a patient's own blood has been popular in Germany for many years. It is used, as you might surmise, for exactly the sort of remitting/exacerbating conditions for which no good therapy exists, such as osteoarthritis. It is called in German "Eigenbluttherapie" or "Own-blood-therapy."

    About thirty years ago or so, I remember meeting a fellow who had been instructed to inject himself, intravenously, with his own urine. Equally faddish, but probably more palatable than the time-honored Vedic practice of amaroli, the oral ingestion of the morning's first urine. That's something they don't teach in the yoga classes at the YWCA.


    posted by Sydney on 6/30/2004 08:49:00 AM 0 comments


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