Multiple myeloma stem cell transplant , the patient receives high doses of chemotherapy to destroy cells in the bone marrow (including myeloma cells).
Then the patient receives blood-producing new and healthy stem cells. When stem cell transplants were developed for the first time, the new stem cells come from bone marrow and therefore was known as bone marrow transplantation.
Today, stem cells are obtained more often than blood (peripheral blood stem cell transplantation).
Stem cell transplantation is commonly used to treat multiple myeloma. Before the transplant, medication treatment is given to reduce the number of myeloma in the patient’s body cells
Autologous transplants (autologous transplants)
In a stem cell transplant, own stem cells from the patient are extracted from their bone marrow or peripheral blood before the transplant.
Cells are stored until they will need for the transplant. Then, the person with myeloma receives the treatment, such as high-dose chemotherapy, sometimes with radiation to kill cancer cells.
After treatment, the stored stem cells are infused into the patient’s blood.
This type of transplant is a conventional treatment for patients with multiple myeloma.
However, despite the fact that an autologous transplant can make myeloma disappears for a while (even years), this does not cure the cancer, and eventually myeloma returns.
Some doctors recommend that patients with multiple myeloma undergo two autologous transplants, apart for six to 12 months. Call this method transplant tandem.
Studies show that this can benefit more patients than when a single transplant. The disadvantage is to cause more side effects and therefore carries a higher risk.
Transplants allogeneic (Allo-transplants)
In an allogeneic transplant of stem cells, the patient receives blood from another person (a donor) stem cells.
The best treatment results occur when the donor cells are very compatible to the type of cell of the patient and the donor is a close relative, such as a brother or a sister.
Allogeneic transplants are a higher risk compared to auto transplants, but can better fight cancer. This is because
transplanted cells (from the donor) may, in fact, help destroy myeloma cells. Graft-versus-tumor effect is this called.
However, in studies conducted in patients with multiple myeloma, who received allogeneic transplants often said worse in the short term than those receiving autologous transplants.
At present, allogeneic transplants are not considered a treatment for myeloma, although they can be as part of a clinical study.
Side effects Multiple myeloma stem cell transplant
The first side effects of transplantation of stem cells are similar to the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, only that they are more serious.
One of the most serious side effects is low blood counts that could cause risk of serious infections and bleeding.
The most serious side effect of the allogeneic transplant known as disease of Graft-versus-host (or GVHD,) for its acronym in English that occurs when new immune cells (from the donor) identify patient tissues as foreign and therefore attack them. The GVHD can affect any part of the body and may endanger life.
In the stage II and III multiple myeloma, treatment should always include chemotherapy. In this advanced type of multiple myeloma, chemotherapy is important to avoid, or at least delay, the rapid advance of tumor.
In multiple myeloma stage I with slow course, the side effects of chemotherapy would trigger more problems than the disease itself. Then it is possible, under certain circumstances, renounce the chemotherapy at the beginning.
Stem cell transplantation
When the patient’s general condition allows it, you can use high doses of chemotherapy followed by transplantation of blood stem cells.
In these cases, the patient receives high doses of chemotherapy drugs. These high doses destroy all the cancer cells, but also cells (so-called stem cells) blood-forming bone marrow (and, therefore, the immune system).
Then the patient receives stem cells from blood, with which you can create a new system slowly. This treatment of myeloma is very risky and only is possible if the patient is in good general health.
A new molecule allows an increase in umbilical cord stem cell transplants
Researchers of the Institute of research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) at the University of Montreal, Canada, announced in the journal Science the discovery of a new molecule that allows you to multiply the stem cells in umbilical cord blood unit. Umbilical cord stem cells are used for transplants to cure a number of diseases related to blood including leukaemia, myeloma and lymphoma.