A combination of phototherapy and albumin therapy may be a promising treatment for brain damage by preventing severe jaundice in newborns and adults. That concludes UMCG researcher Andrea Schreuder in her thesis.
70 percent of the babies and all preterm-born, after their birth a little yellow. This is due to higher bilirubin values; Bilirubin is a yellow pigment in our blood plasma. It is formed by the breakdown of red blood cells, and discharged through the liver, bile and feces. In newborns this process is not so good. Babies with high bilirubin levels are treated with light therapy. This treatment is effective.
There is a group in which the jaundice is observed too late; must be carried out a blood transfusion with them. Furthermore, there is a small group of patients in whom the bilirubin degradation process is not operating properly; they have the disease, Crigler-Najjar. They have a defective gene which makes their liver enzyme is not working.
A serious accumulation of bilirubin in the blood, hyperbilirubinemia, can lead to brain damage. This occurs in 25 percent of Crigler-Najjar patients, despite daily light therapy. Such therapy can be up of patients in this group of up to 16 hours in a day. In newborns, the treatment may be considered less intrusive the short treatment duration, as well as newborns may incur brain damage because the therapy is not always effective. Therefore, it is very important to develop new treatment strategies.
In her research Schreuder discovered that can be a combination of any of these treatment strategies phototherapy and administration of additional albumin. This is a protein molecule in the blood plasma to which bilirubin binds readily. From the study of Schreuder shows that the bilirubin levels in the blood will not only decrease considerably, but that bilirubin accumulation in the brains in this way can be completely prevented. These findings can be used for the development of clinical studies with Crigler-Najjar patients and newborns with severe jaundice.