What is a stem cell transplant?
August 12, 2022
What is a stem cell transplant?
A stem cell transplant is a medical procedure that replaces unhealthy cells in your bone marrow. Replacement cells might come from either your own body or from a donor.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are unique cells that can replicate and transform into various types of cells. Various types of stem cells can be found in various body regions at different times. For example, cancer and cancer treatment can cause hematopoietic bone marrow damage. Hematopoietic stem cells are blood-forming stem cells. It is present in the middle of the majority of bones. Hematopoietic stem cells can also be found in your blood, circulating throughout your body. Hematopoietic injured stem cells may not develop into red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. However, these blood cells are significant and have very particular jobs:
- Red Blood Cells – They transport oxygen throughout your body. They also transport carbon dioxide to your lungs, where it is expelled.
- White Blood Cells – They are a component of your immune system. They combat pathogens, which are viruses and bacteria that can cause illness.
- Platelets – These form clots to prevent bleeding.
A stem cell transplant is a clinical treatment that involves the transplantation of healthy stem cells into your blood. This improves your body’s ability to produce red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
What are the types of transplants?
There are various types of transplants. The 2 major types are:
- Autologous transplant – Autologous stem cells are derived from your own body. Cancer is sometimes treated with high-dose, intense chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Unfortunately, this form of treatment can potentially harm your bone marrow and your immune system. That is why, before starting cancer treatment, clinicians extract.
- Allogenic transplant – Following chemotherapy, your body’s stem cells are returned to you, restoring your immune system and your body’s ability to generate blood cells and fight infection. This is also known as an AUTO transplant or stem cell rescue.
During an ALLO transplant, many people experience a “graft-versus-cancer cell impact during an ALLO transplant.” This is when the new stem cells recognise and eliminate any remaining cancer cells in the body. This is the primary mechanism by which ALLO transplants treat cancer.
Finding a “donor match” is essential to the ALLO transplant process. A match is a healthy donor whose blood proteins, known as human leukocyte antigens (HLA), are highly similar to yours. This is known as HLA typing. Siblings from the same parents are frequently the best matches, although another family member or an unrelated volunteer can also be a good match. If your donor’s proteins closely match yours, you are less likely to develop graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). This is because the healthy transplant cells attack your cells in this scenario.
- Umbilical cord blood transplant – Umbilical cord blood stem cells are employed in this sort of transplant. Before birth, the umbilical cord connects a foetus to its mother. The baby does not require it after birth. Cord blood is used in cancer treatment clinics all around the world. Get more information on cord blood transplantation.
- Parent-child and haplotype mismatched transplants – Cells from a parent, child, brother, or sister are usually a 50% match for a patient’s HLA type. Doctors are increasingly employing these types of transplants to broaden the application of transplantation as an effective cancer treatment.
How does a stem cell transplant work?
The following information explains the main phases of AUTO and ALLO transplants. Generally, each procedure begins with the collection of replacement stem cells, treatments to prepare the patient’s body for the transplant on the transplant day, and finally, the recuperation phase.
A tiny tube is frequently inserted in the patient’s chest and remains in place throughout the transplant process. It’s known as a catheter. Your doctor can provide chemotherapy, drugs, and blood transfusions. Because patients may need regular blood tests and other therapies during a transplant, a catheter minimises the number of needles required for the skin.
Please keep in mind that transplants are complex medical operations, and specific processes may occur in a different order or on a different time frame to personalise your treatment. Inquire with your doctor about whether you will need to stay in the hospital for various procedures, and if so, for how long. Always discuss what to anticipate before, during, and after your transplant with your health care team.
How does an AUTO transplant work?
- Step 1: Gathering your stem cells – This procedure takes several days. To begin, you will be given medicine injections to boost your stem cell count. Your medical team then collects the cells via a vein in your arm or chest. The cells will be kept in reserve until they are required.
- Step 2: Pre-transplant care – This procedure takes 5 to 10 days. You will be given a large dose of chemotherapy. Patients may also receive radiation therapy on occasion.
- Step 3: Restoring your stem cells – This is the day of your transplant. Each dosage of stem cells takes roughly 30 minutes. This is known as an infusion. The stem cells are reintroduced into your bloodstream via the catheter by your medical staff. The stem cells are then reintroduced into your bloodstream via the catheter by your medical staff. You may have had more than one infusion.
- Step 4: Recovery – Your doctor will monitor the recovery and antibiotics to prevent infection. Your medical staff will also treat side effects.
How does an ALLO transplant work?
- Step 1: Identifying the donor – Before the ALLO transplant procedure can begin, a matched donor must be discovered. Blood testing will determine your HLA type. Your health care team will then collaborate with you to perform HLA testing on potential donors in your family and, if necessary, search a volunteer registry of unrelated donors.
- Step 2: Collect your donor’s stem cells – Your medical team will take cells from your donor’s blood or stem cell. If the cells are collected from the bloodstream, your donor will get daily shots of medicine to raise the number of white blood cells in their blood for a few days before the collection. The stem cells are then extracted from their bloodstream.
- Step 3: Pre-transplant care – This process requires 5 to 7 days. First, you will take chemotherapy alone or with radiation therapy to prepare your body to receive the donor’s cells.
- Step 4: Obtaining donor cells – This is the day of your transplant. Your medical team injects the donor’s stem cells into your bloodstream through the catheter. Obtaining donor cells typically takes less than an hour.
- Step 5: Recovery – During your initial healing, you will be given antibiotics to lower your risk of infection, as well as other medications, such as those to prevent and/or manage GVHD.
Recovery from a stem cell transplant
It takes a long time to recover following a stem cell transplant, and it takes a long time to recover. Recovery is frequently divided into stages, beginning with extensive medical monitoring following your transplant. As your long-term recovery progresses, you will eventually return to a normal medical checkup routine in the months and years to come.
It is critical to keep an eye out for signs of infection during the initial recovery period. The rigorous chemotherapy treatments you receive before your transplant also harm your immune system. This ensures that your body accepts the transplant without attacking the stem cells. It takes time for your immune system to recover following a transplant. This implies you are more prone to getting an infection soon after donating.
You will be given antibiotics and other treatments to lower your risk of infection. In addition, if you have an ALLO transplant, your meds will include anti-GVHD medications. Follow your healthcare team’s advice on how to avoid infection right after your transplant.
Even if you are highly cautious, getting an infection following a stem cell transplant is typical. Your doctor will regularly monitor you for symptoms of the disease. Regular blood tests and other tests will determine how your body and immune system react to the donor cells. You may also receive blood transfusions via your catheter.
People also ask
1. What exactly is a stem cell transplant?
A stem cell transplant is a medical procedure that replaces unhealthy cells in your bone marrow. Replacement cells might come from either your own body or from a donor. Transplantation can treat leukaemia, myeloma, and lymphoma, as well as other blood and immune system illnesses that impact the bone marrow.
2. Is stem cell transplant serious?
Stem cell transplants are complicated procedures with a high risk of catastrophic consequences. Therefore, before beginning therapy, you must know the risks and potential benefits.
3. What diseases can be cured with stem cells?
People with spinal cord injuries, type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, stroke, burns, cancer, and osteoarthritis may benefit from stem cell therapy.