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Blow for bone marrow transplant as stem cells age

By Tim Sandle     Sep 7, 2016 in Health
Bone marrow transplants are tricky procedures, particularly with blood-related problems. Now a new concern has been raised: rapid cellular ageing.
A curious side effect of bone marrow transplants appears to be rapid cellular aging induced from the transplant. In some case studies, the procedure appears to age the cells by the equivalent of 30 years (chronologically).
Bone marrow transplants are the means of providing high dose chemotherapy, sometimes together with radiotherapy. This process aims to try to cure some types of cancer, like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Bone marrow is the spongy-like substance inside your bones which makes blood cells.
The procedure requires the replacement of diseased blood stem cells with healthy ones from a matched donor (termed ‘allogenic’) or from the patient’s own stem cells (called ‘autologous').
With the new finding, researchers examined 63 patients who were being treated for forms of blood cancer. With many of the patients the researchers noted an elevation in the levels of a biological marker protein called p16. This protein is associated with ageing.
The data indicated patients given autologous transplants had approximately three times the increase of p16 compared to their pre-transplant state. This is seen as equivalent to ageing by 30 years, chronologically.
Discussing the new finding, Professor William Wood, from the UNC School of Medicine Division of Hematology and Oncology told Laboratory Roots: “We're increasingly recognizing that survivors of transplant are at risk for long-term health problems, and so there is interest in determining what markers may exist to help predict risk for long-term health problems, or even in helping choose which patients are best candidates for transplantation."
Exactly why this is happening is uncertain, and what the consequences are requires exploring. Moreover, it does not detract from the benefits and increased survival rates associated with receiving the transplant. The findings do warrant further investigation.
The findings are published in the journal EBio Medicine, titled “Chemotherapy and Stem Cell Transplantation Increase p16INK4a Expression, a Biomarker of T-cell Aging.”
More about Bone marrow, Bone marrow transplant, Cancer, Stem cells, Ageing
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