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Bone Marrow Stem Cells Transplants: Types and Application

02 April 2015


Bone marrow is the spongy composition that can be found at the bones center. It produces over 20 billion blood cells each day. The bone marrow is composed of stem cells. These cells are capable of dividing and developing into various other cell types in the body. This attribute of stem cells has been a groundbreaking discovery that can and has been used in treating various medical conditions. One of the first instances of a successful transplant of bone marrow can be traced back to 1968. Today, the stem cells in the bone marrow are transplanted to treat various bone marrow and blood diseases, immune disorders and blood cancer.

Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan and Philippines have grown as popular destinations for bone marrow transplants. While this can be partly accounted to the top-notch medical institutions in these locations, it also due to the pocket-friendly prices at which medical treatment is offered.

What are stem cells?


Stem cells mature into cells that form key elements of the blood in an individual. These three types of cells are:

    • Red blood cells that are responsible for the circulation of the blood in the body
    • White blood cells that are responsible to fight infections
    • Platelets that are responsible for blood clotting mechanisms

Application of stem cell transplants


Stem cells have been used to treat diseases like:

    • Leukemia: Often, radiation and chemotherapy can result in destroying or severely damaging the bone marrow in cancer patients. A bone marrow stem cell transplant can help replace these cells that are lost during the treatment.

    • Immune-deficiencies: The body's ability to produce certain white blood cell is constricted due to the presence of immune deficiencies in individuals. It can cause the person to be susceptible to various life-threatening infections. In such cases, a bone marrow transplant can help produce these white blood cells.

    • Blood diseases: In individuals who suffer from blood diseases like sickle cell anemia, Aplastic anemia and Thalassemia, the body does not produce adequate amount of red blood cells, while in some cases these red blood cells fail to function properly. Bone marrow stem cell transplants can help replace the red blood cells in such cases.

Stem cell transplantation types


Stem cells transplantation can be categorized under two types:

    • Autologous transplantation or AUTO: In this procedure the stem cells for transplantation are taken from the patient's body itself. The doctor collects the stem cells from the patient and stores it in a custom freezer where it can survive for decades together. After collection, the frozen transplant stem cells are carefully infused into the vein of the patient. For the next 24 hours, the stem cells are seen to remain within the patient's blood stream, and then find their way into the marrow. They then continue to multiply and grow, and initiate curing the medical condition.

    • Allogeneic transplantation or ALLO: In this procedure, the stem cells for transplantation are collected from another individual. One of the first steps is to find a donor with stem cells that match the patient. Every person's tissue composition is unique, and determined by the combination of human leukocyte antigens (HLA), a specific protein that is found on the white blood cell surfaces. For a successful allogeneic transplantation, a nearly perfect HLA-match should be first found. Else it can result in complications where the transplant's immune cells attack the recipient's cells as they recognize them as foreign objects. HLA tissue typing, is a type of blood test that helps evaluate if the HLA of the recipient and the donor matches. Usually patients find donor matches in siblings, or sometimes even other member of the family. After a donor match has been found, and the stem cells have been collected, they are transplanted to the patient through IV techniques.





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