Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is a rare disorder characterized by recurrent attacks of swelling that may involve multiple anatomical locations. In the majority of patients, it is caused by a functional or quantitative defect in the C1 inhibitor (C1-INH), which is an important regulator of the complement, fibrinolytic, kallikrein-kinin and coagulation systems. Standard treatments used for other types of angioedema are ineffective for HAE. Traditional therapies for HAE, including fresh frozen plasma, epsilon-aminocaproic acid and danazol, may be well tolerated and effective in some patients; however, there are limitations both in their safety and efficacy. Several novel therapies have completed phase III trials in the US, including: (i) plasma-derived C1-INH replacement therapies (Berinert P and Cinryze); (ii) a recombinant C1-INH replacement therapy (conestat alfa; Rhucin); (iii) a kallikrein inhibitor (ecallantide [DX-88]); and (iv) a bradykinin-2-receptor antagonist (icatibant). Both Berinert P and Cinryze are reported to have excellent efficacy and safety data from phase III trials. Currently, only Cinryze has been approved for prophylactic use in the US. US FDA approval for other novel agents to treat HAE and for the use of Cinryze in the treatment of acute attacks is pending. [References: 79].
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