Stem cell transplantation is a relatively new method of treating diseases that perhaps few have heard of. What are stem cells? How do they help treat illness and injury? Why have they attracted so much attention? We will explain more about this issue in the following. Stay with us until the end of the article.
What is a Stem Cell?
Stem cells are the body’s raw materials and cells that divide under normal body or laboratory conditions to produce daughter cells. These daughter cells become either new stem cells or specialized cells (differentiated) with specific functions, such as cells:
- Heart muscle;
What is a Stem Cell Transplant?
Cell therapy, or reconstructive medicine, is a new type of organ transplant that uses cells instead of donated organs to treat disease or damaged or dysfunctional tissue.
After the stem cells are transformed into specific functional cells, these cells are injected into their own tissue to treat the disease. Bone marrow stem cell transplants are now very common.
When is a stem cell transplant used?
Stem cell transplantation is used to treat the following conditions:
- Malfunctioning bone marrow or stem cells that do not produce enough blood cells due to the body;
- Disease of blood cells or bone marrow, in which case the patient’s stem cells must be replaced with healthy stem cells;
- Diseases that require high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and in addition to cancer, a person’s stem cells are destroyed.
Where do stem cells come from?
- Embryonic stem cells: These types of stem cells are produced after in vitro fertilization of an egg. These eggs are donated and are never transferred to a woman’s uterus for fertilization. These stem cells are stored and cultured in special containers in the laboratory.
- Adult stem cells: These cells are not as versatile and functional as embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells can not produce all types of cells, so their use to treat the disease is limited.
- Fetal cord blood stem cells.
Restrictions on the use of embryonic stem cells
In addition to being highly differentiated, these cells may grow uncontrollably and be recognized by the body as an external agent and fight them, or the cell may not function properly for unknown reasons. Studies on the possible side effects of stem cell transplantation are ongoing.
Types of stem cell transplants
There are two main types of stem cell transplants:
- Autologous link: These cells are taken from the patient himself. Sometimes cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, can damage a patient’s immune system. Therefore, the doctor takes the patient’s stem cells and stores them before starting treatment. After chemotherapy, these cells are transplanted into the patient to fight infection, produce blood cells and rebuild the immune system.
- Allogeneic bonding: These stem cells are taken from someone else. These cells are transplanted into the patient after chemotherapy or radiation therapy. At this stage, the person needs a donor whose cells are most compatible with his or her body proteins. The children of a family are usually the best option for donating stem cells to each other, however, these cells can be obtained from other family members or unrelated individuals to reduce the risk of donated cells invading the body’s cells.
Bone marrow stem cell transplantation
Bone marrow is a soft, spongy tissue in the body that has hematopoietic stem cells. These stem cells are also present in the blood and are circulated throughout the body. If hematopoietic stem cells are damaged, they can not produce red, white or platelet cells.
Bone marrow transplantation, also known as stem cell transplantation or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, is a medical treatment to replace bone marrow cells with healthy cells. These cells can be taken from the patient or another person. This transplant can be used to treat certain types of diseases, for example:
- Diseases of the blood and immune system that affect the bone marrow.
Stages of bone marrow transplantation
Bone marrow transplantation consists of 4 steps:
- Stem cell preparation: Cells can be obtained from the patient or donor. This stage takes several days, depending on whether the cells are taken from blood or bone marrow, and there will probably be a course of treatment to increase the number of stem cells.
- Pre-transplant treatment: It usually takes 5 to 7 days for the patient to receive chemotherapy with or without radiation so that the body is ready to receive the stem cell.
- Stem cell transplantationThis stage takes less than an hour and the stem cells enter the patient’s bloodstream through a catheter.
- Recovery stage: At this stage, antibiotics or medications should be used to prevent transplant rejection. The medical team examines for complications after the transplant.
Important points after stem cell transplantation
Recovery after transplantation takes a long time. In the first stage of recovery, one should watch out for the symptoms of the infection. Pre-transplant chemotherapy can also help damage the body’s immune system so that the body can accept stem cells without rejecting the transplant. It takes several days for the immune system to return to function, so there is a risk of infection after the transplant. Antibiotics are prescribed to reduce the infection.
Side effects of stem cell transplantation
In addition to infection, a person may have immediate or long-term complications from stem cell transplants, most of which are related to chemotherapy, radiation, or radiation therapy.
Immediate complications of stem cell transplantation
- Pain in the mouth;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Decreased red blood cells and anemia;
- Decreased platelets and hard blood clotting.
Long-term effects of stem cell transplantation
- Types of cancer;
- Thyroid problems;
- Lung or bone damage;
- Sexual complications such as menopause.
In addition to these complications, donor stem cell transplants may develop host transplant disease, or GVHD for short, in which the transplant cells invade cells in the patient’s body.
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There are two ways to determine the proper functioning of a stem cell transplant:
- Blood cell counts return to normal, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, and decrease within the first week or two of transplantation.
- Cancer is controlled.
What diseases are treated with stem cells?
Stem cell transplantation is used to treat a variety of cancers and diseases related to the blood and immune system, including:
- testical cancer;
- Autoimmune disorders;
- Treatment of vision problems;
- Treatment of skin problems;
- Acute and chronic myeloid leukemia;
- Acute and chronic lymphoblastic leukemia;
- Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma;
- Congenital blood disorders such as thalassemia and sickle cell anemia.
Stem cell transplantation in Iran
Dr. Amir Ali Hamidiyeh, Secretary of the Stem Cell Science and Technology Development Headquarters of the Vice President for Science and Technology, in an interview with IRNA News Agency He said that so far more than 12,000 hematopoietic stem cell transplants have been performed in the country and most of them have been used to treat leukemia. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is used to treat more than 70 types of incurable diseases, including blood diseases, malignancies, immunodeficiency and metabolic disorders.
How familiar are you with stem cell transplants? Did this article give you complete information? What were some interesting points about using stem cells? If you wish, you can share your experience and opinion with us in the comments section and send this article to your friends through social networks.