What is stem cell therapy and how is it used:
Patients requiring a stem cell transplant will receive cells from one of three sources: bone marrow, circulating blood or cord blood. The first two sources exist at all healthy adults, but umbilical cord blood can be collected and stored only at birth. It is much easier for patients who need transplant to be compatible with umbilical cord blood than the other two sources of adult blood. Birth is also a unique opportunity to help the family storing the child’s umbilical cord blood. Patients who undergo transplantation recover better when receiving stem cells from a related donor, than from one unrelated. Stem cells are used in medical practice in 3 types of treatments : standard therapy; therapies in clinical studies, experimental treatments. As treatment modalities we have 2 types: Allogeneic – transplant -when patients receive stem cells from a donor, related or unrelated to him and Autologous transplant – when patients receive transplant with their own stem cells. When parents donate to a public bank, they provide support to parents throughout the world who are looking for an unrelated donor stem cells to be transplanted allogeneic to their child or other family member. Some diseases are treated mainly by following allogeneic (eg acute lymphoblastic leukemia), while other diseases are treated mainly by autologous (eg Hodgkin’s lymphoma). Standard therapies refers to diseases for which stem cell transplantation is a standard therapy already used worldwide. They are used for more than 70 diseases, such as: leukemia (acute and chronic), Hodgkin lymphomas; red cell abnormalities (Beta thalassemia major). Among diseases treatable with stem cells we mention the following categories: acute and chronic leukemias, myelodysplastic syndromes, lymphomas, hemoglobinopathies, anemia, hereditary platelet abnormalities, myeloproliferative diseases, congenital diseases of the immune system, phagocytic disease, congenital metabolic diseases etc. Stem cells transplants are currently used in the treatment of more than 70 severe diseases, acute or chronic.
Stem cell transplant procedure:
After completing the pre-transplant tests and procedures, the patient will begin the process of conditioning. During this procedure, the patient will receive chemotherapy and radiotherapy possible to kill cancer cells, suppress the immune system so the body does not reject the transplanted cells. The type of stem cell procedure depends on a number of factors, including the type of disease, general health and the type of transplant scheduled – if an allogenic or autologous transplant is done. Conditioning generally takes a week and will be followed by stem cell transplantation. In some cases, patients may receive high doses of chemotherapy and radiation. In the other cases, patient receives high-dose chemotherapy only, without radiation therapy. The conditioning is done in the hospital. It can have many side effects and complications as bone marrow stem cells are destroyed in preparation for stem cell transplant.
Stem cell transplant advantages:
Stem cell transplant represents a unique therapeutic potential already shown for some serious diseases of the blood (leukemia, anemia). In the future, it is expected that stem cells to be used to replace damaged cells or tissue of heart disease, spinal cord injury, cancer (brain, ovarian, skin), multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases such as diabetes or Parkinson’s diseases Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, it is considered that the discovery of stem cells was one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine.
Stem cell transplant disadvantages:
Among stem cell transplant disadvantages may be mentioned oncogenic potential , so an important risk of cancer and other side effects insufficiently investigated.
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