Graft Versus Host Disease

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What are the risks to patients of stem cell transplants?

Stem cell transplantation is a complex process. However, the transplant procedure itself is straightforward, similar in fact to a blood transfusion. The donor stem cells are transfused through a central line (a catheter) which goes into a major vein in the chest. The donor stem cells travel through the circulatory system and the stem cells can then start homing to the bone marrow and start dividing and replenishing the immune and blood system. Chemotherapy and Infection Once a stem cell transplant has taken place it can take several weeks or months for the donor cells to engraft. Engraftment…

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  • Parents of young children
  • Anyone interested in the future of medicine
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Graft-versus-Host Disease: everything you need to know

What is Graft-versus-Host Disease? Stem cell transplants can provide a cure for a number of blood disorders, cancers and other diseases. However, no stem cell transplant is without risk. One common complication, which can be fatal in extreme cases, is Graft-versus-Host Disease (GvHD) GvHD occurs if the transplanted stem cells view the recipient’s body as foreign and attack it. It is an autoimmune disorder which can occur at any time following a transplant. It can present itself immediately or days, months and years down the line. Unlike a rejection, which occurs when the recipient of a…

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Acute leukaemia and the future of stem cell treatment for blood cancer

What is Acute Leukaemia? Acute Leukaemia is a form of blood cancer which progresses especially quickly. Leukaemia is identified by the overproduction of white blood cells, or leukocytes. When the body produces more leukocytes than it should these white blood cells do not mature normally and so compromise, or totally impair, the immune system. As a leukaemia sufferer’s body is flooded with leukocytes it is left unable to produce the right level of red blood cells and platelets. A routine virus or bacteria may be fatal, as your body is unable to produce the healthy white blood cells which would…

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