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Recent insights into extracorporeal photopheresis for graft-versus-host disease.

INTRODUCTION: Extracorporeal Photopheresis (ECP) may be considered the unique large-scale cell therapy currently available. It is currently employed mainly as second-line treatment, especially in steroid-resistant or steroid-dependent Graft versus Host Disease (GvHD) with good results and very few limitations.

AREAS COVERED: Many points need to be clarified regarding the ECP mechanism of action, that conditions the lack of uniqueness among the different centers, essentially cycle frequency, treatment duration, and the number of cells to be treated to obtain a response, according to the organs involved. Moreover, reliable biomarkers for prediction of response are lacking, as well as the best pharmacological combination. We will focus on the recent advances concerning ECP for GvHD treatment. We performed a systematic literature research in Pubmed and Embase as of September 2023.

EXPERT OPINION: The recent studies on ECP mechanism of action along with the promising biomarkers of response, and the synergistic benefit of ECP in association with the new drugs render this therapy an important weapon for GvHD resistant to conventional treatment and can be proposed as a valid first-line therapy option with promising results. We believe that it should be used early in all categories of patients, considering its high safety profile.

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