Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) involves the intravenous infusion of autologous or allogeneic stem cells collected from bone marrow, peripheral blood, or umbilical cord blood to reestablish hematopoietic function in patients with damaged or defective bone marrow or immune systems. The HSCT used in my treatment will be autologous.
Autologous transplantation is typically used as a method of returning the patient’s own stem cells as a rescue therapy after high-dose myeloablative therapy. This is generally used in chemosensitive hematopoietic and solid tumors to eliminate malignant cells by administering higher-dose chemotherapy than could normally be tolerated by the bone marrow of the patient. The high dose chemotherapy is then followed with subsequent rescue of the host’s bone marrow with previously collected autologous stem cells. Immunosuppression is not required after autologous transplantation because the immune system that is reconstituted is that of the original host.
In the words of Dr Richard Burt, the aim of HSCT is to replace the body’s current “police force” (immune system) with a new group of officers fresh out of the academy who do what they are supposed to do and not attack normal, good citizens.