Good news for sufferers with hereditary angioedema
Over the last few years new treatments have been developed for emergency treatment of patients with hereditary angioedema swellings affecting the skin, the bowel or the throat. The standard treatment is an intravenous infusion of purified C1 esterase inhibitor from the blood of healthy donors after it has been screened and treated very carefully for possible blood-borne infections. There are now different options for treating acute attacks with new drugs that can be injected under the skin, instead of intravenous: the first is called icatibant and is available in Europe and the second one is called ecallantide and is currently available in the United States. A third technologically advanced product called recombinant C1 esterase inhibitor has been marketed within the last year in Europe. It is derived from the milk of genetically modified rabbits, which secrete the same protein lacking in patients with hereditary angioedema. It still has to be given by intravenous infusion but it is not a blood product and therefore does not carry any risk of transmitting blood-borne infection.