Transplantation of blood stem cells is also known popularly as bone marrow transplantation. This is a powerful method that can possibly provide a long-term cure for various other diseases. However, this procedure is highly toxic and at present used only to treat extremely critical cases.
Recently, researchers from Stanford University School of medicine have found a way to conduct the therapy that would lower the toxicity drastically (in mice). When this procedure proves harmless and effective for humans, it can be used to treat autoimmune diseases. It can also cure congenital metabolic disorders. This fine method can be used for the treatment of different kinds of cancer and organ transplantation that are safer and successful.
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Rethink about the current deleterious treatment
Methods like Chemotherapy or Radiotherapy are used for transplanting blood stem cells. However, these methods are highly toxic and cause damage to other organs like the liver, reproductive organs and the brain. These procedures can also be lethal. Doctors decide to give patients this treatment only when the risks of the severe disease is higher than the complication from the transplant.
By means of antibodies
By attaching the antibody to c-kit proteins and blocking CD47 marker, the immune system depleted the blood-forming stem cells of the animal, thus clearing the way for the new blood stem cells of a donor to be placed in the bone marrow and generating new blood and enhancing the immunity in the animal.
Blood stem cell transplant can be compared to planting a new area of crops. The researchers have found a safe way to clear the field for the process. Safer techniques are also used to plant the new cells. At present, bone marrow transplant involves a combination of blood stem cells and other immune cells of the donor that may attack the tissues of the recipient. This attack can cause damage to the tissues and even result in killing the patients.
From the lesson learnt during the previous study, the research team got the donor tissue purified so that it contained only the blood stem cells and no other immune cells which could result in graft-versus-host disease.
This process proved successful in mice and hence there is a hope that a similar technique can succeed in humans as well. If it does work with humans then, there would be a decrease in the death rate (caused by blood stem transplantation) from 20% to zero.
New epoch to treat diseases
When the above mentioned is accomplished, it is going to be a completely new era with regard to the treatment of diseases and reformative medicine.
Organ transplant is going to be easier and safer too in future. Today the patients who undergo a transplant should take drugs for the rest of their life to ensure there is no attack on the new organ from their own immune system.
If blood cells and immune cells are transplanted from the donor at the same time, then the immune system will not attack the donated organ.