Photopheresis is a modified apheresis procedure where lymphocytes in the buffy coat are treated with a photosensitizer, called methoxypsoralen, and exposed to ultraviolet light. Methoxypsoralen when exposed to ultraviolet light damages DNA in the targeted cells which results in cell death. Currently, there are four CMS approved indications for photopheresis, chronic graft-versus-host disease, heart transplant rejection, cutaneous t-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and bronchiolitis obliterans following lung transplant when the recipient is enrolled on an approved clinical trial. Additional autoimmune and dermatologic diseases may respond to photopheresis. Photopheresis is well tolerated by most patients with the side effects of mild low blood pressure and possible fainting.
The stem cell transplant program apheresis collection facility has initiated photopheresis at UVA. We have performed our first 2-consecutive day photopheresis in April 2019. Photopheresis is not only available to patients within the stem cell transplant program, but to patients from other providers with illnesses that may benefit from this procedure. Bringing photopheresis capabilities to our UVA patients was the work of a multi-disciplinary team. I would like to thank all involved in the Department of Medicine and the Medical Center who made this possible.
Dr Tamila Kindwall-Keller