• Stem Cell Therapies

  • Donor Adult Stem Cells

Donor adult stem cells as a cure for sickle cell anemia

Adult stem cells, hematopoietic stem cells in particular, have been proven to be effective in treating patients who suffer from genetically inherited disorders, including sickle cell anemia. Hematopoietic stem cells are multipotent adult stem cells which give rise to all types of blood cells. Adult stem cells, including hematopoietic stem cells, can be obtained from adult bone marrow, circulating blood, or placental and umbilical cord blood. Although it is difficult to match transplant patients with donated blood, matching is easiest using umbilical cord blood.xvii

Bone marrow and cord blood transplants from a healthy donor as a source of new blood forming hematopoietic stem cells can provide patients with a life-long production of healthy red blood cells, thus curing them of sickle cell anemia.xviii Numerous children with the disease have been cured of stem cell anemia via these stem cell transplants. Unfortunately, chemotherapy is generally necessary to destroy the child’s own bone marrow cells first.

This approach is not a full-proof cure for most people with sickle cell disease. Bone-marrow and umbilical cord blood transplants are limited in that they require blood from well-matched donors that do not elicit immune reactions between the cells of the donor and patient.xix Therefore, although using donor adult stem cells derived from donor bone marrow or umbilical cord blood can cure sickle cell anemia in some patients, this method will never be able to cure the disease in all patients. Still, the larger the pool of donated bone marrow and umbilical cord blood, the more sickle cell patients who can be cured.