How Bone Marrow Transplants Work

bone marrow transplant

via Medical City |

Although the buzz term of “stem cells” has only recently come to the limelight, the science and technology behind its utility to treat certain diseases has been present in some form or another since the late 1930s.

Back in those early days, physicians and scientists already saw the potential of these cells for illnesses involving the bone marrow, even garnering the Nobel Prize in 1959. The process, known as a hematopoietic stem cell transplantation or HSCT, has remained mostly the same since then, but with some very important technological improvements.It is also more commonly called a bone marrow transplant.

For patients who have certain malignancies of the blood and bone marrow (such as leukemias and lymphomas), or autoimmune diseases (such as systemic lupus erythematosus), or other blood-related disorders (like aplastic anemia and thalassemia major), HSCT has been part of the standard treatment regimen, backed by large and long-term studies on efficacy. The process, though, is very difficult, and in itself can be very harmful.

The typical procedure will start with a course of very high doses of chemotherapy, specifically tailored to obliterate the patient’s existing bone marrow. This procedure is called myeloablation, and is meant to kill the diseased bone marrow and affected blood cells. At this point, because of the lack of bone marrow and the cells that comprise it, including the immune cells, the patient becomes very susceptible to infection. This actually is the major cause of death and disability for HSCT.

After a few days, the hematopoietic stem cells, which are the stem cells that will become the patient’s new bone marrow, are given to the patient. Depending on the disease, this could be from the patient’s own stem cells, or from a matched donor. And once these have been implanted, they then start to function as the new bone marrow with potentially curative results.

The success rates for HSCT differ and would depend on a lot of factors, some are inherent in the patient, biology of the disease and facilities of the center.

At the Institute of Personalized Molecular Medicine (IPMM) of The Medical City, each patient’s treatment can be personalized and tailored uniquely, ensuring safety and efficacy because of the presence of cutting-edge technology coupled with the expertise of internationally-trained specialists in  the field of Hematology and Oncology, Transplantation, and Infectious Diseases.

About IPMM

IPMM is a unit of The Medical City focused on the ethical delivery of personalized molecular medicine treatments. The backbone of the IPMM is Regenerative Medicine, a revolutionary field involving the engineering of cells and other biomaterials with the goals of restoring organ function lost or impaired due to disease or injury, and improving the quality of life.

IPMM is one of the very few accredited Human Stem Cell and Cell-based Therapy Programs in the country, with accreditation granted by the Department of Health  in November 2014.

For appointments and inquiries, please call TMC-IPMM at (632) 988 1000 / (632) 988 7000 loc 6307 / 6551, or visit