Stem Cell Basics- The Types of Stem Cell Transplants
You might already know the amazing benefits that stem cells can provide, but do you know exactly where they’re from?
Well, stem cells can be abundantly found in the different areas in our body.
The main ones that doctors use today are bone marrow stem cells and the stem cells that you can acquire directly from your bloodstream (also known as the Peripheral System).
You and your doctor should discuss the different terms of stem cell transplantation, especially if you’re looking to get the treatment yourself.
That being said, there are two major types of stem cell transplants: The Autologous and the Allogeneic.
The first basic type is the Autologous transplant. This is where the stem cells are extracted directly from your body; either from your bone marrow, your peripheral system, or from other sources.
The process is simple. Basically, you’re harvested for your stem cells days prior you get your chemotherapy sessions. After which, you will be subjected to a series of radioimmunology therapy as well as chemotherapy sessions to ensure that the cancer cells are all killed off.
At this point, your body is going to be at its weakest due to how strong the cancer-killing drugs are. Your stem cells will be thawed (because after extraction, it will be frozen to improve its potency) and then it will be injected at the site near your bone marrow to induce red and white blood cell production.
There are plenty of advantages to autologous transplants. One, the chances for success is higher because of the fact that the stem cells are derived from your own body. There is far less chance of it being rejected as it will not be deemed as a “foreign pathogen” by your own body’s immune system.
Second, it has the best possible chance of grafting to your bone marrow to initiate blood cell production. Remember, after your chemotherapy sessions, you will be at your weakest point, literally. Therefore, allowing your body to start producing healthy cells again is crucial to your survival.
The only downside to the Autologous transplants is that there might be some cancer cells that can be transferred during the extraction process.
This is where the stem cells are extracted from a suitable donor- may it be from your family, friends, or from someone who has been cleared by the National Marrow Donor Program or other similar registries.
The process of harvesting the stem cells is quite the same as the Autologous transplants; the only difference being that the source doesn’t come directly from the patient’s own body.
The major advantage to Allogeneic transplants is that it has a higher chance of being successful, especially if the Autologous transplants have failed. Furthermore, because of the fact that the new stem cells can create red and white blood cells, you will basically have a “new” and vastly improved immune system and its effects are longer than the previous transplantation method.
The only major downside would be that the stem cells can be rejected by the patient’s body because it doesn’t come from the person’s body and it might be deemed as a “foreign” matter.
There are certainly advantages and disadvantages that are present in both the Autologous and the Allogeneic Stem cell transplant methods. It is up to you to weigh the pros and cons to see if what option works best for you.