What is a bone marrow transplant?
is the replacement of cancerous or abnormal red bone marrow with healthy red bone marrow in order to establish normal blood cell counts.
How is a bone marrow transplant started?
In patients with cancer or certain genetic diseases, the defective red bone marrow is destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy and whole body radiation just before the transplant takes place. These treatments kill the cancer cells and destroy the patient's immune system in order to decrease the chance of transplant rejection.
How is a bone marrow transplant done?
Healthy red bone marrow for transplanting may be supplied by a donor or by the patient when the underlying disease is inactive, as when leukemia is in remission. The red bone marrow from a donor is usually removed from the iliac crest of the hip bone under general anesthesia with a syringe and is then injected into the recipient's vein, much like a blood transfusion. The injected marrow migrates to the recipient's red bone marrow cavities, where the donor's stem cells multiply. If all goes well, the recipient's red bone marrow is replaced entirely by healthy, noncancerous cells.
What kinds of diseases has the bone marrow transplants been used for?
Bone marrow transplants have been used to treat
certain types of leukemia,
severe combined immunodeficiency disease (SCID),
and hemolytic anemia.
What are some drawbacks to bone marrow transplants?
Since the recipient's white blood cells have been completely destroyed by chemotherapy and radiation, the patient is extremely vulner-able to infection. (It takes about 2–3 weeks for transplanted bone marrow to produce enough white blood cells to protect against infection.) In addition, transplanted red bone marrow may produce T cells that attack the recipient's tissues, a reac-tion called graft-versus-host disease. Similarly, any of the recipient's T cells that survived the chemotherapy and radia-tion can attack donor transplant cells. Another drawback is that patients must take immunosuppressive drugs for life. Because these drugs reduce the level of immune system activity, they increase the risk of infection. Immunosuppressive drugs also have side effects such as fever, muscle aches, headache, nausea, fatigue, depression, high blood pressure, and kidney and liver damage
What is a cord blood transplant?
Stem cells may be obtained from the umbilical cord shortly after birth. The stem cells are removed from the cord with a syringe and then frozen
What are some of the advantages of stem cells from cord blood over those obtained from red bone marrow?
1. They are easily collected following permission of the newborn's parents.
2. They are more abundant than stem cells in red bone marrow.
3. They are less likely to cause graft-versus-host disease, so the match between donor and recipient does not have to be as close as in a bone marrow transplant. This provides a larger number of potential donors.
4. They are less likely to transmit infections.
5. They can be stored indefinitely in cord-blood banks.