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Intravenous immunoglobulin or IVIG is a pharmaceutical preparation of human antibodies, prepared by processing the blood of hundreds of blood donors to remove the antibodies from the rest of the blood, then further processing them to remove antibodies that are responsible for ridding the body of dead tissue. It is a type of gamma globulin and the type most often used in medicine. The remaining preparation contains only those antibodies that attack disease.
Immunoglobulin has three primary uses in the treatment of disease:
- It is used to treat people who are immunodeficient to replace the antibodies that have been destroyed by disease or radiation.
- It is used to treat autoimmune and inflammation disorders. For some reason that is not well understood, antibodies from immunoglobulin actually reduce the patient's immune response.
- For severe infections. In these cases, the antibodies in immunoglobulin assist the immune system's response to disease.
Immunoglobulin is very expensive. The cost of treating a patient with a standard dose (which is based on body weight) is in the range of $10,000 per day.