- What is peripheral blood stem cell transplantation?
- What are stem cells?
- What do stem cells do?
- What is the value of stem cells for transplantation?
- Where do the stem cells come from for transplantation?
- How are the stem cells removed from the blood?
- How is the patient "prepared" for the transplantation?
- How is the transplantation actually done?
How are the stem cells removed from the blood?
The blood is filtered through a machine and the stem cells are skimmed off. The removal of the cells is termed pheresis or apheresis (from the Greek "aphairesis" for removal). The stem cells then may be used right away for the transplant or stored suspended in DMSO and frozen in liquid nitrogen until needed.
How is the patient "prepared" for the transplantation?
Before the transplant is done, the patient receives high-dose chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy over several days to destroy diseased cells (the leukemic cells, lymphoma cells, solid tumor cells, the diseased immune system cells in scleroderma, etc.)
How is the transplantation actually done?
Once the chemotherapy is gone, the stem cells are defrosted and returned to the patient as a blood transfusion. They are already biologically programmed to migrate to the bone marrow, where they can produce new blood and immune cells and replace the cells destroyed by the treatment.
The stem-cell preparation is infused into a vein and, once there in the blood stream, the stem cells act like homing pigeons and head straight for the bone marrow space.
Medically reviewed by Jay B. Zatzkin, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Medical Oncology
"Bone Marrow Transplantation and Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplantation"