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Human blood naturally contains substances that help the blood clot at an injury. Antihemophilic factor is one of these chemicals, and doctors can use commercially available forms of it to help people who have problems with clotting. Sources of medical antihemophilic factor include human blood donations and genetically engineered cell culture.
In the body, antihemophilic factor is only one of the substances that the body needs to produce an efficient blood clot. It is also known as Factor VIII. Some people do not produce Factor VIII, and these people suffer from classic hemophilia, a disease where the body bleeds uncontrollably from even minor injuries. Another disease called Von Willebrand disease causes sufferers to have antihemophilic factor that does not work properly.
People who suffer from these diseases can often benefit from a regular dose of antihemophilic factor. It helps the blood to clot normally, and reduces the risk of death from severe bleeding. A patient may either receive an injection of the chemical, or he or she may receive an infusion into a vein that takes less than ten minutes.
Blood donors have antihemophilic factor circulating in the blood. Scientists can extract this substance from donated blood and give it to another person who needs it. One major problem with human donated antihemophilic factor is that the product carries a risk of contamination by human pathogens, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV.)
Another option that does not carry this risk is an artificially produced form of antihemphilic factor. In this case, a drug company genetically engineers cells with the gene that codes for the substance, and harvests the factor from the cells. This form of the medication has the same effects inside the body as the form that comes from human blood donations.
Both the recombinant and natural forms of the chemical cause the same side effects. These may include dizzy spells, excessive tiredness and headaches. A patient may also suffer from an irritated throat and stomach problems.
Occasionally, antihemophilic factor can cause allergic reactions in recipients. This manifests itself in symptoms like skin hives and problems breathing. Other serious side effects include unexplained bruises or bleeding. When a patient receives an infusion into the vein, he or she may also have problems with the tube that delivers the chemical into the body. Signs that the catheter location is infected include swelling, pain, and heat at the site of insertion.