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How Plasma is Used to Treat MS

May 1, 2023

What is Plasma?

Plasma is the liquid portion of blood. It’s 91-92% water, and the rest of it is comprised of salts and proteins. Plasma is a straw-coloured liquid, colloquially referred to as “liquid gold.” 

Some of the proteins included in plasma are: 

  • Immunoglobulins
  • Alpha-1 proteinase inhibitor 
  • Clotting factors
  • C1 esterase inhibitor

These proteins are the backbone of plasma’s immune-boosting powers.

How Plasma is Used to Treat Autoimmune Conditions via Plasmapheresis

Plasma is known as a “second-line therapy” treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS), after the use of steroids. It can also be used as an alternative for patients who are unable to tolerate steroid injections.

Plasma exchange, known as plasmapheresis, can be used to treat MS (also known as TPE in the context of MS treatment) by “cleaning” the plasma portion of whole blood. Plasmapheresis, to treat MS, is the process of removing plasma from whole blood, cleaning it, and returning it and the blood back into the body. From one arm, blood is removed, then the plasma is separated and returned to the patient in the other arm. The plasmapheresis process takes approximately one hour, and MS patients who require this treatment need it every day for 5-7 days. 

The “cleaning” portion of plasmapheresis is meant to remove inflammatory factors and antibodies from the plasma, helping to reduce overall inflammation and its symptoms in MS patients. These inflammatory factors and antibodies can cause relapses, which is why clearing them out can be beneficial for MS patients.

How Plasma is Used to Treat MS

Plasma therapies can be used to alleviate symptoms of MS for patients with Relapsing remitting MS (RRMS). 

There are three main types of MS: 

  • RRMS. RRMS stands for Relapsing Remitting MS, which means that the patient’s case can go into remission for an extended period of time. RRMS is the only type of MS that plasma treatment can effectively aid. 
  • Secondary Progressive MS. This type of MS is the bridge between RRMS and Primary progressive, with symptoms worsening and little to no remissions/relapses. 
  • Primary Progressive MS. Primary Progressive MS means that the condition worsens to disability from the onset of symptoms without any remissions. 

During a relapse, patients with RRMS can use plasma treatments and therapies to mitigate their symptoms. Some of the symptoms of an MS attack include: 

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with balance and coordination
  • Trouble with your vision
  • Issues with your bladder
  • Numb or tingling feelings (pins and needles)
  • Problems with your memory
  • Trouble concentrating

Plasma can be used to help ease the symptoms of these sudden attacks or flare ups. The plasma of MS patients could attack their own bodies, which is why plasmapheresis can be helpful during these flare ups.

The Importance of Donating Plasma

Plasma donation is essential so that patients with autoimmune conditions can obtain the treatments and therapies that they need to live healthy lives. Book your next plasma donation appointment today to earn some extra income and make a difference in someone else’s life – you may not know the positive impact that you could have, but it could make all the difference in the world for someone who needs a plasma transfusion.