AutologousAutologous HSCT requires the extraction (apheresis) of haematopoietic stem cells (HSC) from the patient and storage of the harvested cells in a freezer. The patient is then treated with high-dose chemotherapy with or without radiotherapy with the intention of eradicating the patient's malignant cell population at the cost of partial or complete bone marrow ablation (destruction of patient's bone marrow function to grow new blood cells). The patient's own stored stem cells are then returned to his/her body, where they replace destroyed tissue and resume the patient's normal blood cell production. Autologous transplants have the advantage of lower risk of infection during the immune-compromised portion of the treatment since the recovery of immune function is rapid. Also, the incidence of patients experiencing rejection (graft-versus-host disease) is very rare due to the donor and recipient being the same individual. These advantages have established autologous HSCT as one of the standard second-line treatments for such diseases as lymphoma. However, for others such as Acute Myeloid Leukemia, the reduced mortality of the autogenous relative to allogeneic HSCT may be outweighed by an increased likelihood of cancer relapse and related mortality, and therefore the allogeneic treatment may be preferred for those conditions. Researchers have conducted small studies using non-myeloablative hematopoietic stem cell transplantation as a possible treatment for type I (insulin dependent) diabetes in children and adults. Results have been promising; however, as of 2009 it was premature to speculate whether these experiments will lead to effective treatments for diabetes.
AllogeneicAllogeneic HSCT involves two people: the (healthy) donor and the (patient) recipient. Allogeneic HSC donors must have a tissue (HLA) type that matches the recipient. Matching is performed on the basis of variability at three or more loci of the HLA gene, and a perfect match at these loci is preferred. Even if there is a good match at these critical alleles, the recipient will require immunosuppressive medications to mitigate graft-versus-host disease. Allogeneic transplant donors may be related (usually a closely HLA matched sibling), syngeneic (a monozygotic or 'identical' twin of the patient - necessarily extremely rare since few patients have an identical twin, but offering a source of perfectly HLA matched stem cells) or unrelated (donor who is not related and found to have very close degree of HLA matching). Unrelated donors may be found through a registry of bone marrow donors such as the National Marrow Donor Program. People who would like to be tested for a specific family member or friend without joining any of the bone marrow registry data banks may contact a private HLA testing laboratory and be tested with a mouth swab to see if they are a potential match. A "savior sibling" may be intentionally selected by preimplantation genetic diagnosis in order to match a child both regarding HLA type and being free of any obvious inheritable disorder. Allogeneic transplants are also performed using umbilical cord blood as the source of stem cells. In general, by transplanting healthy stem cells to the recipient's immune system, allogeneic HSCTs appear to improve chances for cure or long-term remission once the immediate transplant-related complications are resolved.
A compatible donor is found by doing additional HLA-testing from the blood of potential donors. The HLA genes fall in two categories (Type I and Type II). In general, mismatches of the Type-I genes (i.e. HLA-A, HLA-B, or HLA-C) increase the risk of graft rejection. A mismatch of an HLA Type II gene (i.e. HLA-DR, or HLA-DQB1) increases the risk of graft-versus-host disease. In addition a genetic mismatch as small as a single DNA base pair is significant so perfect matches require knowledge of the exact DNA sequence of these genes for both donor and recipient. Leading transplant centers currently perform testing for all five of these HLA genes before declaring that a donor and recipient are HLA-identical.
Race and ethnicity are known to play a major role in donor recruitment drives, as members of the same ethnic group are more likely to have matching genes, including the genes for HLA.
SynogeneicSyngeneic bone marrow transplantation is a procedure in which a person receives bone marrow donated by his or her healthy identical twin. This is more of a specific term for a for the procedure above.
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