Frequently Asked Questions
Why HSCTs, bone marrow, stem cell or cord blood transplants?HSCT offers the possibility of many years of healthy, normal life for the 30,000 children and adults in the U.S. stricken with a number of diseases, including various types of leukemia, aplastic anemia, severe combined immune deficiency syndrome, Sickle Cell Anemia, other cancers, and radiation poisoning. For many of these patients, an HSCT offers their best chance of overcoming an otherwise fatal disease. Thousands of HSCTs are performed annually at approved medical centers worldwide.
What is an HSCT and what is the relationship to stem cells?HSCT has been used to treat blood diseases such as leukemia and disorders of the immune system for many years. stem cells are immature cells generally found in bone marrow. stem cells have the potential to develop into the three types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. These important cells are used by the blood and the immune system to fight infections and disease and are continually replaced by the marrow throughout an individual's lifetime. In some diseases like leukemia, when the marrow can no longer produce healthy blood and immune system cells, an HSCT from a suitable donor can be life-saving. In an HSCT, the donated stem cells are infused or put into the patient whose diseased blood cells have been destroyed by radiation and/or Chemotherapy. With a successful transplant, the donated stem cells will rapidly grow in number and restore the patient's normal stem cell function and its blood-forming capacity.
Three sources of stem cells for transplantation are available: marrow, peripheral blood stem cells and umbilical cord blood stem cells. Each has the potential to successfully repopulate a patient's own stem cells.
Marrow: stem cells residing in the bone marrow have traditionally been the most important source of HSCTs. Marrow is removed from the upper area of the donor's pelvic bone while the donor is under general or regional anesthesia. On average, one liter of marrow is removed. The exact amount is determined by the needs of the patient. Donors may have some mild discomfort after the procedure but the remaining stem cells in their marrow will reconstitute themselves within a few weeks.
Peripheral Blood stem cell (PBSC): stem cells are also present in the bloodstream, although in much smaller amounts than in the marrow. A growth factor known commercially as Filgrastim is usually given to donors to stimulate development of a sufficient number of stem cells for a transplant. These peripheral blood stem cells are then collected through Apheresis, a simple process whereby the donor's blood is circulated through a collection filter.
Each of these approaches can producea successful HSCT.
The information presented in these FAQs is not meant to be, nor should be taken as, medical advice. Kashi Clinical Laboratories strongly encourages you to consult a qualified physician before using the information, products and services available on this website.