How Stem cell Therapy may help cure cancer

For a cancer patient, there are three fundamental types of stem cell transplant; Autologous, Allogenic, and Syngeneic.

In order to get rid of blood cancers, huge doses of chemotherapy are applied which destroy cells in your body including the cancerous cells. During this process, the bone marrow stem cells amongst other blood cells are killed and therefore, stem cells are used so that they can develop into a healthy blood system in your body over time. These stem cells are given through a vein, and then later settles within the bone marrow to grow, and replace the destroyed cells – the process is known as engraftment. In essence, the concept is to kill the bad cancerous cells and replace them with fresh healthy ones. For a cancer patient, there are three fundamental types of stem cell transplant;

 ● Autologous

 ● Allogenic 

 ● Syngeneic

Autologous Stem Cell Transplant

The stem cells are derived from a patient before chemotherapy is applied. This is only if the patient is in remission. Once the chemotherapy is done and the existing stem cells are destroyed, the preserved stem cells are given back into the body. Autologous is beneficial since a patient gets his or her own cells and there is less risk of complications or rejection of the cells. This type of transplant is normally used in cancers of the blood, both for adults and youngsters.

Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant

This is different from autologous as the stem cells are obtained from a donor that is compatible (match) to the patient (recipient). In most cases, donors are close relatives, usually a sister or a brother. Even if there is a match, there are increased risk of complications and rejection of the transplant. Cord blood, blood obtained from umbilical cord and placenta of newborn, is a reliable and rich source of stem cells for this type of transplant, and also the cells seem to multiply faster. However, this source has less number of stem cells per unit volume, hence known to be suitable only for children and babies.

Syngeneic Stem Cell Transplant

This is also known as a special type of allogeneic transplant, which is limited to a given recipient with a similar or identical sibling (twin/triplet) as a donor. In this case, the donor is a complete match to the patient. This stem cell transplant is quite beneficial to the patient since risks such as rejections are minimal to non existing, similar to an autologous transplantation.

Presently, it is possible to donate your stem cells. For them to be used, they need to match that of the recipient.  It is important to donate as many patients may lack family members such as a brother or sister which sometimes are a suitable donor. The medical experts can identify a person with closely similar stem cells to donate. This process is referred to as a Matched Unrelated Donor (MUD) transplant.

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