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What is stem cell therapy?

Stem cell therapy is an effective treatment for blood cancers and haematological disease. The London Clinic offers this innovative treatment by world-class haematologists in a comfortable, safe and stress-free environment. 

The haematology consultants perform stem cell transplantation in The London Clinic’s cutting-edge Stem Cell Apheresis Unit, using the latest equipment and technology.

We are the UK’s first independent, non-profit hospital to have JACIE (Joint Accreditation Committee-ISCT-Europe) and EBMT (European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation) accreditation.  

The experienced haematologists are assisted by an expert multidisciplinary team that will support you from your first consultation, during your procedure, and throughout your recovery. 

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are the body’s building blocks. At the beginning of a baby's development, stem cells start the process of generating an entire human being. As the embryo develops, stem cells specialise to form different cells and organs. 

We retain these special cells throughout our lives. They act to regenerate body tissues, an ability which can be harnessed to repair damaged cells and treat disease. 

Stem cells in the bone marrow develop to become blood cells, including white blood cells to fight infection, red blood cells, which transport oxygen and platelets, which help with blood clotting.

This unique capability makes stem cell therapy useful in the treatment of blood and bone marrow cancers and haematological disease.

What is stem cell therapy?

Stem cell therapy uses the cells’ unique ability to regenerate and repair tissues. Stem cells have been used effectively for many years in the treatment for conditions such as cancers of the blood and marrow, thalassaemia and sickle cell disease. 

Stem cell transplant is a procedure to replace diseased or damaged stem cells with healthy new ones. This can benefit people who are undergoing treatment for some blood cancers and individuals living with blood disorders. 

Bone marrow transplant is a procedure in which healthy stem cells are removed from the bone marrow and transplanted into the body.

At The London Clinic, the specialists usually use stem cells harvested from peripheral blood instead of bone marrow. These are easier to collect, result in higher numbers of stem cells, and provide a more rapid blood count recovery.

Types of stem cell transplant

The London Clinic offers different types of stem cell transplant.

They are classified according to the origin of the stem cells:

  • Allogeneic transplant: Stem cells are harvested from another individual, either a relative or healthy volunteer donors. Donors are matched through UK and international blood registries including Anthony Nolan, DKMS and BBMR.
  • Autologous transplant: The specialist team collects stem cells from your body for transplantation in the future. Cells can be harvested while they’re still healthy, before chemotherapy, for example.
  • Syngeneic transplant: A transplant from an identical twin.

Your consultant will discuss your options and take time to answer all your questions.

Why choose The London Clinic for stem cell therapy? 

The London Clinic has a state-of-the-art unit dedicated to the treatment and care of patients with serious blood disorders and blood cancers. The service is accredited by JACIE and regulated by the Human Tissue Authority (HTA)

The purpose-built unit was designed to help patients who need special facilities due to compromised immune systems. It offers cutting-edge treatments, including the latest developments in chemotherapy and immunotherapy as well as stem cell transplants.

The unit is supported by a dedicated stem cell laboratory with facilities for flow cytometry and cryopreservation.  

The London Clinic has a liquid nitrogen facility for the long-term storage of patients' stem cells. We are the largest accredited stem cell collection centre in Europe for peripheral blood and bone marrow volunteer donors, collecting over 700 donations every year. The teams work closely with blood registries including Anthony Nolan, DKMS and BBMR.

Who can benefit from stem cell therapy?

You may benefit from stem cell therapy if you have disease or damage to your bone marrow or red blood cells. 

The treatment of blood cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma destroy cells in the bone marrow. As well as attacking cancer cells, it also damages stem cells. Stem cell transplantation can replace these and can also facilitate higher doses of chemotherapy. 

The specialist haematology consultants at The London Clinic also use stem cell therapy to treat other conditions affecting blood cells such as aplastic anaemia, sickle cell disease and thalassaemia.

The London Clinic provides a range of treatments for blood disorders, targeted at each individual’s needs. Not everyone is suitable for stem cell therapy. Your team will discuss the options, risks and benefits of treatment and recommend the treatment that is best for your condition, your health and your lifestyle.

Stem cell donation and therapy at The London Clinic

Stem Cell donation and therapy takes place in the Duchess of Devonshire Wing, The London Clinic’s award-winning cancer centre. It is specially designed for patients receiving cancer treatment, providing exceptional support and infection prevention.

The Stem Cell Apheresis Unit provides comprehensive care. The Apheresis clinical nurse specialist (CNS) works closely with the haematology consultants and liaises with the blood registries to ensure that patients and registered donors receive the best quality of care and treatment.

Stages of Stem Cell therapy

Stem cell therapy includes three stages: 

1. Stem cell donation

Stem cells can be collected from the patient or a healthy donor. Anyone wishing to donate stem cells should register via a blood registry such as DKMS, BBMR or Anthony Nolan.

Volunteer donors have a cheek swab and blood test, which are analysed in the specialist laboratory to see if they are a match for anyone. If a donor is found to be a match, the registry will get in contact. 

The matched donor attends The London Clinic specialist unit for a medical assessment. The haematology consultant will explain the procedure and arrange 
GCSF injections for four days before collection. These mobilise the white blood cells to produce more stem cells.

Peripheral blood Stem Cell collection (PBSC) from the patient or a healthy donor takes between four and five hours. Blood is collected through a drip, and the blood is processed through a device which extracts the stem cells. 

2. High-dose chemotherapy or radiotherapy

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy treat any cancer or blood disorder and suppress the immune system in preparation for the stem cell transplant. Treatment takes three to four days and can make you feel weak, sick and unwell.

During this time, The London Clinic team will provide advice, support and expert treatment to keep you comfortable.

3. Stem cell transplant

Over several hours, healthy stem cells are transplanted through a drip. The stem cells travel to the bone marrow where they start to make new blood cells. 

Your recovery will depend on your disease, your age and your general health and wellbeing. It can take some time for your blood cells to reach a safe level, and it may be months before you fully recover.

At this challenging time, the Apheresis Unit team will offer around-the-clock support and a comfortable environment in which to recuperate.

Why choose The London Clinic?

The London Clinic is dedicated to providing the best, personalised healthcare with over 600 world-renowned consultants available to offer informed health advice and treatment.

Spanning Harley Street and Devonshire Place, The London Clinic is situated in the heart of London’s internationally-known medical district. This central location, together with state-of-the art technologies and facilities that are not widely available in other hospitals, makes The London Clinic the hospital of choice for around 120,000 patients every year.

The London Clinic is an HTA licensed and JACIE accredited cancer centre with an ‘Excellent’ MacMillan Quality Environment Mark and with access to a Level 3 intensive care unit.

Offering affordable and competitive self-pay packages and expert support from Clinical Nurse Specialists and our specialised multidisciplinary team, over 98% of our patients said they would recommend The London Clinic to their friends and families.

Treatment cost

The London Clinic offers affordable, competitive self-pay packages for certain treatments.

Please call +44 (0)20 3613 7502 to speak to our helpful team to find out more and to book an appointment.

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