Stem Cell Transplant - A New Therapy
Q. What is stem cell therapy or transplant for cancer treatment?
Ans. Stem-cell therapy is the use of stem cells to treat or prevent a disease or condition. Bone marrow transplant is the most widely used stem-cell therapy but some therapies are used from umbilical cord blood also.
Cell therapy (also called cellular therapy or cytotherapy) is therapy in which cellular material is injected into a patient; this generally means intact, living cells. For example, T cells capable of fighting cancer cells via cell-mediated immunity may be injected in the course of immunotherapy.
In a typical stem cell transplant for cancer very high doses of chemo are used, sometimes along with radiation therapy, to try to kill all the cancer cells. This treatment also kills the stem cells in the bone marrow.
A stem cell transplant aims to try and cure some types of blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. It is also called a peripheral blood stem cell transplant. Stem cell transplants are procedures that restore blood-forming stem cells.
Q. What is a stem cell transplant for cancer?
Ans. A stem cell transplant aims to try and cure some types of blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. It is also called a peripheral blood stem cell transplant.
Q. What is the normal process of stem cell transplant?
Ans. The first part of the stem cell transplant process is called conditioning. During this time, patient receives intense chemotherapy or radiation therapy which kills all the stem cells. In the absence of the healthy stem cells, process of making enough blood and immune cells stops.
Stem cell transplantation is more like a transfusion of blood and immune cells rather than a surgical procedure.
In a stem cell transplant, embryonic stem cells are first specialized into the necessary adult cell type. Then, those mature cells are transferred in a patient’s bloodstream to replace tissues that are damaged or destroyed. These transplants use adult stem cells or umbilical cord blood.
This process generally completes between 10 and 28 days after the initial transplant. The first sign of engraftment is a rising white blood cell count. This shows that the transplant is starting to make new blood cells.
Q. What does it mean to harvest stem cells?
Ans. The process of collecting (harvesting) stem cells for transplant depends on the source of the stem cells. Stem cells can be collected from bone marrow, circulating (peripheral) blood or umbilical cord blood.
Special needle is placed into the soft centre of the bone, the marrow to extract stem cells. Most sites used for bone marrow harvesting are located in the hip bones and the sternum. The procedure takes place in the operating room.
When stem cells are collected from bone marrow and transplanted into a patient, the procedure is known as a bone marrow transplant. If the transplanted stem cells came from the bloodstream, the procedure is called a peripheral blood stem cell transplant—sometimes shortened to ‘stem cell transplant.’
Q. How stem cells are used for transplant?
Ans. Bone marrow stem cells are transplanted to cure many of the blood and bone marrow diseases, blood cancers, and immune disorders. More recently, stem cells from the bloodstream (called peripheral blood stem cells) and umbilical cord stem cells have been used to treat some of the same blood-based diseases.
Q. What are the side effects of stem cell therapy?
Ans. Infection is one of the most common early side effects of a stem cell transplant. Other than that bleeding, anemia, graft-versus-host disease, veno-occlusive disease, digestive system problems, Skin and hair problems and Pain are another common side effect of stem cell transplant.