Thanks to a stem cells transplant, a patient can have new stem cells, getting healthy blood cells as a consequence.
Types of stem cell transplants
The most relevant types of stem cell transplants are the following:
It is also known as autotransplant or high-dose chemotherapy with autologous stem cell rescue. In this procedure, patients receive their own stem cells after our doctors treat cancer.
First, we extract the stem cells from the blood and freeze them. Read about stem cells storage here. Subsequently, doctors administer powerful chemotherapy, and rarely, radiotherapy. We then thaw the frozen stem cells and replace them in the blood through a tube that is inserted into a vein (intravenously [IV]).
It takes about 24 hours for the stem cells to reach the bone marrow. Afterwards, they start to grow, multiply and help the marrow to give rise healthy blood cells again.
It is also known as allotransplant. In this type of procedure, the patient gets the stem cells from another person. It is vital to find someone who has a bone marrow compatible with the patient’s.
The main reason is that there are some proteins in white blood cells that are called human leukocyte antigens (HLA). The best donor has HLA proteins as similar as possible to the patient’s.
Compatible proteins make a serious disease called graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD) less probable. GVHD is a condition in which healthy cells of the transplant attack the patient´s cells. The most compatible donor can be a close relative (brother or a sister). Nevertheless, another relative or volunteer might also be compatible.
When we find a perfect donor, the patient receives chemotherapy with or without radiotherapy. Afterwards, the patient gets the other person’s stem cells through a tube that is inserted into a vein (IV). The cells of an ALO transplant usually do not freeze. Therefore, doctors can supply the patient with the cells as soon as possible after chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Types of allotransplants
Nowadays, there are 2 types of ALLO transplants. The best type of transplant for each patient depends on age, health and the type of disease.
-Ablative, (which applies high-dose chemotherapy).
-Reduced-intensity, in which we apply milder doses of chemotherapy.
If a compatible adult donor is difficult to find, there are other available options. There is ongoing research to assess the type of transplant that works best for different patients.
Umbilical cord blood transplant: It is available in various health centres, such as the Harley Street Hospital if you cannot find a compatible donor.
Parent-child and haplotype mismatched transplant: These types of transplants are usually more used. The compatibility is 50%, instead of almost 100%. The donor can be a parent.
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