3 Ways Leukapheresis Is Used In Medicine

Leukapheresis is the process of extracting white blood cells (WBC) from circulation, while allowing other components to be returned to the donor or patient. This process has many uses, both in the treatment of serious conditions and furthering medical research.

Cancer Treatments

Leukapheresis can be used to remove excess WBCs, which can occur in certain types of cancers. This process is invaluable for people with leukemia, especially chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Often times the chronic forms of leukemia, in contrast to acute forms, are slow to progress. This means a person can have CLL for years before they shows any symptoms and the problem may be found haphazardly on routine blood work. Although chronic forms of leukemia are slow to progress, they are generally harder to treat and may be incurable. Part of treatment for someone with CLL can be leukapheresis when the number of WBCs becomes dangerously high. An abundance of WBCs can crowd-out other cells and contribute to dangerous complications associated with CLL.

Help Others Fight Diseases

Much like blood donation is invaluable to helping people survive surgery, trauma, or sickle cell disease, the donation of cells retrieved from leukapheresis can be equally valuable. The cells collected from donors are mononuclear cells, which includes cells that help fight infection and have other functions in disease processes. People who donate cells via leukapheresis are providing researchers with the tools necessary to potentially create treatments for many illnesses. For example, autoimmune diseases are caused by abnormalities within the immune system that lead immune cells to destroy normal tissue. The ability to perform experiments with cells that are believed to be responsible in autoimmune diseases can help create new biologics or possibly find a cure for autoimmune diseases.

Further Stem Cell Research

Just as leukapheresis can be used to extract other mononuclear cells from blood, the process can also be used to extract stem cells. In this case, the stem cells are mobilized by a special mobilizing agent. The mobilizing agent encourages the stem cells to move from the bone marrow into circulation in the blood stream, where they can be "captured" during leukapheresis. One of the main advantages of this method is stem cells are collected from healthy donors without the need for invasive procedures, such as bone marrow aspiration. There are many lines of research involving stem cells. Some research aims to treat diseases where the only option is an organ transplant, whereas stem cells may one day be used to create an organ without the need for donors.

Leukapheresis is used to save or prolong the life of people with certain types of cancer and help researchers find better treatments for serious illnesses.

About Me

Preparing for a Stem Cell Transplant

About six months ago, my wonderful father discovered he had an aggressive form of lymphoma. At this time, his doctor informed him he would need to undergo six rounds of chemotherapy. My dad’s physician also told him he would need to have a stem cell transplant immediately after he completed the chemotherapy. To prepare for the stem cell transplant, my father was put on a special diet. His doctor recommended he eat a lot of protein. My dad was also told to drink plenty of water and exercise regularly. On this blog, I hope you will learn smart tips to help you or one of your loved ones prepare for a stem cell transplant. Enjoy!


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