Wednesday, December 20, 2017 by Frances Bloomfield
Serotherapy, also known as serum therapy, is the treatment of infectious disease or health conditions via the administration of an antitoxin or immune serum. Though similar to vaccinations on a surface level, serotherapy differs in that it is a therapeutic measure rather than a preventative one. Serotherapy will typically call for the injection of a serum; though according to ShaWellnessClinic.com, intravenous application can be done as well. Regardless of how a serum is applied, the main goal is to directly incorporate the serum into the blood.
In August 2017, a team of researchers looked into the potential use of serotherapy in treating severe influenza. Through the randomized-controlled, multi-center trial, the researchers noted that administering serotherapy led to the neutralization and inhibition of the virus; employing serotherapy much later, however, led to poor results, suggesting an “absence of efficacy when serotherapy was given later in the disease course.” General medical journal TheLancet.com further reported: “Our region’s experiences with serotherapy (convalescent plasma or serum and hyperimmune intravenous immunoglobulin [IVIG]) in severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-coronavirus infection, avian (A/H5N1 and A/H7N9) virus infections, and pandemic (A/H1N1pdm09) influenza virus infection, have suggested probable benefits.”
Another study from 2000 discussed the early benefits of serotherapy administration. The researchers behind this study came to the conclusion that pre-transplant serotherapy by itself was “highly effective” in the prevention of graft versus host disease (GvHD) following bone marrow transplantation with unrelated donors. Similar to the earlier study, the researchers wrote that “additional post-transplant serotherapy does not confer any benefit.”
One more unusual yet well-known type of serotherapy comes in the form of venom antiserum. More commonly known as antivenom, this is medication created from antibodies and made specially to treat the venomous stings and bites from snakes, spiders, fish and scorpions. To make antivenom, one must first collect venom and then inject tiny amounts of it into a domestic animal or human, leading to them building up a resistance to the venom over time. The antibodies are collected from the blood of the infected animal or human, and purified to make antivenom. These sera are most often used only in situations where the affected persons are at a significant risk of toxicity. Regardless, there have been a number of studies that have demonstrated the efficacy of antivenom. The researchers behind one such study from 2016 took not of how antivenom was largely responsible for the reduced mortality rate among young scorpion sting victims in Saudi Arabia. To be more precise, the 4.8 percent mortality rate during the first five years of the seven-year study dropped to about zero within the last two years. “The reduction in mortality is attributed to the use of antivenom and improvement in case management,” explained the researchers.
In addition to all of the above-mentioned health benefits, serotherapy has been utilized as a treatment to improve the health of certain organs. These include the skin, digestive system, heart, and hair, all of which can be purportedly improved through the appropriate combination of serums.
Serotherapy involves injecting or intravenously administering antitoxins to treat infectious disease and other health problems. Though not that well known, serotherapy has been looked into for its potential against severe influenza and graft versus host disease. Currently, one the more well-known applications of serotherapy is in antivenom, a type of toxicology treatment for venomous animal stings and bites. In addition to these, serotherapy can also be utilized to boost the appearance of the skin and hair, or improve the health of the digestive system and heart.
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