The development of recombinant FVIII (rFVIII) products, fuelled by the need for improved safety of treatment arising from the dramatic widespread blood-borne virus transmission in the 1970-1980s revolutionized the care of children with haemophilia A over the last two decades. The larger availability of perceived safer replacement therapy associated with the introduction of rFVIII products reassured the haemophilia community and there was a strong push in some Western countries to treat haemophilic children only with rFVIII. Moreover, this significantly contributed in the 1990s to the diffusion outside Northern Europe of prophylactic regimens implemented at an early age to prevent bleeding and the resultant joint damage (i.e. primary prophylaxis), together with the possibility of home treatment. These changes led to a substantial improvement of the quality of life of haemophilic children and of their families. The general agreement that primary prophylaxis represents the first-choice treatment for haemophilic children has been recently supported by two randomized controlled trials carried out with rFVIII products, providing evidence on the efficacy of early prophylaxis over on-demand treatment in preserving joint health in haemophilic children. However, the intensity and optimal modalities of implementation of prophylaxis in children, in particular with respect to the issue of the venous access, are still debated. A number of studies also supports the role of secondary prophylaxis in children, frequently used in countries in which primary prophylaxis was introduced more recently. With viral safety now less than an issue and with the more widespread use of prophylaxis able to prevent arthropathy, the most challenging complication of replacement therapy for children with haemophilia remains the risk of inhibitor development. Despite conflicting data, there is no evidence that the type of FVIII concentrate significantly influences the complex multifactorial process leading to anti-FVIII alloantibodies, whereas other treatment-related factors are likely to increase (early intensive treatments due to surgery or severe bleeds) or reduce (prophylaxis) the risk. Although the optimal regimen is still uncertain, eradication of anti-FVIII antibodies by immune tolerance induction (ITI), usually with the same product administered at inhibitor detection, should be the first-choice treatment for all patients with recent onset inhibitors. This issue applies particularly to children, as most patients undergo ITI at an early age, when inhibitors usually appear. The availability of a stable and long-lasting venous access represents a leading problem also in this setting. These and other topics concerning rFVIII treatment of haemophilic children were discussed in a meeting held in Rome on 27 February 2008 and are summarized in this report.
- Recombinant FVIII
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