Augmentation therapy consists of weekly IV infusions of alpha-1 antitrypsin derived from human plasma. It is used to increase the concentration of the protein in the blood and lungs. Augmentation therapy is the only FDA-approved treatment for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Your lung specialist can determine if you are an appropriate candidate for such therapy, which is covered by most insurance plans.
This is among the most important types of medical therapy for the newly diagnosed individual with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. Although these are most relevant to lung-affected individuals, remember all Alphas have risks to their lungs. Some of the therapies listed are relevant for all patients with Alpha-1.
Lung/liver transplantation can a viable option for some patients. As experience with new surgical techniques increases (particularly single-lung transplantation), lung transplantation may become more attractive to patients with Alpha-1 with end-stage lung disease. Also, living-related liver transplantation is an option at some transplant facilities.
Transplantation is only for patients with end-stage lung or liver disease, which means that they are resistant to more conservative therapies (such as treating symptoms or augmentation therapy). Patients must have extensive damage in the lungs or liver to warrant this surgical option.