As bone marrow transplantation increases in frequency across the world, we are continually learning more about the benefits and, sometimes surprising, side effects of the treatment. Once considered a last resort, bone marrow transplant is now, in many instances, considered to give individuals with bone marrow malfunction disorders the best chance of long term survival.
One new piece of evidence suggests that an allogeneic bone marrow transplant may have cured a peanut allergy in a ten year old boy who received the lifesaving procedure to treat his acute lymphocytic leukemia. This case highlights just how much we have to learn about bone marrow transplantation and how each patient (recipient) will react differently when their donor’s stem cells or bone marrow cells engraft in the bone and take over bone marrow function.
In the past, it has been reported that allergies can be passed to the patient from the donor. However, this is one of the first cases where a patient has been cured of an allergy following stem cell transplantation. This supports allergy experts’ theory that allergies may arise as the result of genetic mutation of immune cells when they are starting to develop within the bone marrow.
Our immune systems produce 5 subclasses of antibodies, proteins responsible for protecting the body against threats such as viruses, bacteria and allergens. One of these subtypes is immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody found in the lungs, skin and mucus membranes. IgE is primarily associated with allergic reactions and parasitic infections. This is why, in the presence of an allergen, we can cough, sneeze, wheeze, develop hives or, in extreme cases, suffer from anaphylaxis.
People with allergies have higher than normal levels of IgE in their blood, hence blood tests to detect IgE levels are used to diagnose allergies. This is because their body over-reacts to the presence of otherwise harmless allergens, seeing nuts, cat fur, pollen, as a potentially deadly threat that must be attacked and removed.
The immune cells responsible for this overreaction are stem cells based in the bone marrow, so it makes sense that, in cases such as bone marrow transplant where existing bone marrow is destroyed and replaced with new, healthy, cells, malfunctions such as allergies should be removed too. However there are very few cases where allergies have been cured as the result of bone marrow transplantation; in addition to this most recent case, there was a 12 year old boy in the UK in 2005 whose peanut allergy was cured post-transplant, and a 5 year old boy whose latex allergy disappeared after his bone marrow transplant to treat a bone marrow dysfunction disorder.
What Does This Mean?
With each new study, each new case, we learn more about bone marrow transplantation and the way in which different individuals act to the procedure. Such studies will help researchers to continue to make bone marrow transplantation safer and to continue to increase survival rates for all bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients.
About Bone Marrow Transplant Mexico
At our Bone Marrow Transplant Center we treat patients from all over the world for bone marrow dysfunction disorders, such as leukemia, Non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s disease, myelofibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and aplastic anemia. With our top medical team, bone marrow donor partnerships, on-site clinic, 5 star facilities and state of the art equipment, we provide a comprehensive care package for transplant patients so that we may offer them the best possible chance of survival.
To find out more about our bone marrow transplant programs, contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation.