A new study has shown that intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is effective in helping treat necrotizing soft tissue infections or ‘flesh-eating’ disease.
Necrotizing soft tissue infections are caused by bacteria that enter a body through breaks in the skin and destroy the tissues underneath.
The most common culprit is known to be the group of bacteria A Streptococcus.
The bacteria spreads through the body and produces toxins that trigger a cytokine storm. Cytokines are cells vital to the functioning of our immune system. When a pathogen or a foreign, disease-causing microbe is detected by our immune system, it releases them into our bloodstream to help other attacker cells detect and destroy the pathogen.
However, certain infections, like necrotizing soft tissue infections or COVID-19, cause the immune system to release an abundance of cytokines into the bloodstream. What then occurs is an exaggerated or out-of-control immune response: immune cells do not just destroy infected tissues but uninfected, healthy tissues as well. This is the cause of massive tissue death in necrotizing soft tissue infections.
In fact, the infections are so severe that 22% of patients are required to amputate infected parts, while 18% do not survive them.
Although the infection is rare, people with weak or compromised immune systems are quite prone to it.
IVIG is already known to work wonders for people suffering from a compromised immune system. This study has shown that perhaps another disease could be added to the long list of rare diseases the plasma therapy can treat.
It involved two groups of patients suffering from the infection who were randomly given either a placebo or 25g of IVIG per day, along with other treatments. The study found a correlation between IVIG and better health in the second group. Blood samples taken before and after the treatment showed that, even in low doses, the addition of IVIG decreased the effects of the toxins produced by the bacteria.
The word correlation is crucial here. Given how small the doses and the sample sizes are, there is no way to discern the precise cause of the progress in health.
A clinical trial with larger doses is the next way to go. Until then, here is another reason why giving plasma is giving the gift of life.
Help improve and save lives. Donate plasma. Find more information here.