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Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) and Stem Cell Banking

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of diseases where the bone marrow doesn’t work properly and produces abnormal blood cells. They’re considered a rare type of blood cancer where not enough healthy blood cells are in the body. It’s also known as myelodysplasia.

A blood stem cell transplant and stem cell therapy following cord blood banking can help treat the conditions grouped under myelodysplastic syndromes. These stem cells provide a valuable resource for patients who may be suffering from these diseases, offering a lifeline to them and even their close family members.

What are the types of myelodysplastic syndromes?

There are several different types of myelodysplastic syndrome. These are sometimes referred to as pre-leukaemia, as patients can go on to develop Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). The main types of MDS are:

  • Refractory Anaemia (RA) – your body doesn’t produce enough healthy red blood cells. You can find yourself getting tired easily and being more vulnerable to infections, bleeding, and bruising.
  • Refractory Anaemia with Ringed Sideroblasts (RARS) – similar to RA and is characterised by immature red blood cells in the bone marrow that contain a ring of iron or ‘ring sideroblasts’.
  • Refractory Anaemia with Excess Blasts (RAEB) – patients with RAEB lack white blood cells, red blood cells or platelets, and carry a higher risk of getting AML.
  • Refractory Anaemia with Excess Blasts in Transformation (RAEB-T) – this is more likely to develop into AML.
  • Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukaemia (CMML) – the patient has too many white blood cells called monocytes. This condition develops slowly and may not present typical symptoms such as fatigue and loss of appetite for a long time.

What treatments are available for myelodysplastic syndromes?

Possible treatments depend on what type of myelodysplastic syndrome the patient has, how likely it is to develop into AML, and any other health conditions present. Treatments aim to increase the number of blood cells in the patient’s bloodstream to reach a regular and healthy level.

The range of therapy available includes injections to increase the quantity of healthy white or red blood cells, a blood transfusion, or drugs to rid the body of excess iron. Chemotherapy can be used for the syndromes that have an increased risk of AML. Here, drugs destroy immature or abnormal blood cells.

Antibiotics may also be used to treat infections where the white blood cell count is low. AML is treated in a similar way, with chemotherapy to get rid of the leukaemia cells. Radiotherapy can also treat the disease.

How can stem cells help with myelodysplastic syndromes?

Stem cells from cord blood banking have a unique ability to transform into any cells the body needs, so are invaluable when treating myelodysplastic syndromes. The stem cells that have previously been in storage are introduced into the patient’s bloodstream and travel to the bone marrow where healthy blood cells are made.

Cells damaged by chemotherapy are replaced and the new cells help to boost the immune system to fight off disease. The patient is strengthened so that they can withstand more chemotherapy than might otherwise be possible.

One of the many advantages of using a patient’s own stem cells is that they won’t be affected by Graft Versus Host Disease. This is a complication when donated stem cells are used and the cells attack the body as if it is ‘foreign’.

How can I bank stem cells for the future?

Stem Protect can extract and bank stem cells for future therapy, such as treatment for myelodysplastic syndromes. Please note that we do not provide the therapy itself. We offer services including cord blood and tissue banking, where stem cells are collected at birth via a non-invasive process.

This safe, painless procedure could provide your child or other family members with a valuable weapon against disease in the future. Alternatively, we provide dental pulp banking services, where stem cells from baby (milk) teeth and in some cases, adult teeth are extracted and stored.

Find out more about our stem cell banking services today – call 0800 211 8389 or fill out our online form to arrange your free consultation. Take the first steps towards safeguarding your family’s health with Stem Protect.

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