KOLKATA: A unique method of treatment that combines stem cells taken from cord blood as well as bone marrow could cure a five-year-old thalassaemia patient in the city.
The combination therapy, which is being tried for the first time in India, could work better than cord blood and bone marrow stem cell therapies which, in isolation, has a success rate of less than 10%.
Stem cells will be drawn from a three-year-old girl's cord blood and bone marrow is to be injected into her five-year-old brother, a thalassaemia patient. Doctors at the Netaji Subhas Cancer Research Institute (NSCRI) that conducted the therapy on Monday believe this will raise the chances of a complete cure. Stem cells in the cord blood are not sufficient to wipe out thalassaemia. "Often, the cell count in cord blood is not high enough. The result is a partial cure. Bone marrow stem cells, on the other hand, often lead to a Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) which is triggered by the body's defence mechanism while the transfusion is being done. Taken together, the two therapies can complement each other and lead to a complete cure," explained Ashish Mukhopadhyay, director of NSCRI.