There are two main types of pediatric stem cell transplants:
Autologous bone marrow transplant
If kids use their own stem cells, it’s called an autologous stem cell transplant (or autologous bone marrow rescue). Doctors typically use peripheral blood stem cells that are collected prior to the transplant and then frozen for later use.:
After intensive treatment such as high-dose chemotherapy, doctors reinfuse the stem cells back into the child’s blood. There, they make new healthy cells. The primary goal of an autologous bone marrow transplant is to “rescue” a child from the effects of high doses of chemotherapy.
Recently autologous bone marrow transplants have been used in clinical trials as the vehicle for gene therapy.
Allogeneic stem cell transplant
When a parent, sibling or unrelated person donates genetically matched stem cells, it’s called an allogeneic stem cell transplant. Similar to an autologous stem cell transplant transplant, patients are typically treated with chemotherapy or radiation or immunotherapy to remove unhealthy cells and then receive a stem cell infusion, except in an allogeneic stem cell transplant, doctors get healthy stem cells from a donor’s bone marrow or blood.
Doctors use allogeneicstem cell transplants to treat leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer. Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells, which starts in the bone marrow.
Doctors treat different types of childhood leukemia with allogenic bone marrow transplants, including acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Learn more about treating childhood leukemia.
The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) has recognized Nemours Children’s as an affiliated center for matched unrelated donor transplants. Many insurance providers also recognize us as a Center of Excellence.