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There’s a New Stem Cell Method That Has Cured Patients of Sickle Cell

May 1, 2018 by Andrea
stem cell

Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash (Illustrative purposes only)

Seven adult sickle cell warriors have officially been cured of the disease. And yes, it was done through the use of stem cells -- just not in the way you may think. 

Typically, in order for a person to undergo a stem cell transplant, their donor must be a family member who has HLA markers (cell proteins that help regulate the immune system) that are a full match, which can be difficult to find. But the doctors at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago have developed a new method that allows for donors to be a half-match. "We modified the transplant protocol by increasing the dose of [chemotherapy] radiation used before the transplant, and by infusing growth factor-mobilized peripheral blood stem cells instead of bone marrow cells," Dr. Damiano Rondelli -- hematology professor, director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant program, and one of the authors of this study -- told UIC Today, the university's publication. 

The original article goes on to say that while the transplants were successful (seven out of eight of them, to be exact), there are still quite  few obstacles preventing patients with sickle cell from receiving this cure, such as medical insurance denial and high chance of stem cell rejection due to frequent blood transfusions. 

Still, this is an exciting start toward developing a more widespread cure in the future. You can read about all the details in the full article here.

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