August 27, 2018

Canadian researchers have discovered what could be a way to alleviate a common blood shortage by using enzymes from bacteria in the human digestive system.

The team from the University of British Columbia found the enzymes could remove the A and B antigens from type A, B and AB red blood cells. The process effectively turns them into type O, since type O is defined as not having either A or B antigens on the red cells.

Type O blood is the most common in the United States, and the supply of O-negative is always tight because it can be used in virtually any patient in an emergency.

Scientists have searched for years for a way to convert type AB, A and B blood to type O, but have had little success in developing an affordable and reliable system.

August 21, 2018

A researcher at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA has recorded his 30th successful treatment of a condition known as the “bubble boy disease.”

Dr. Donald Kohn has been perfecting a stem cell gene therapy for the condition for more than 30 years, and all 30 of the patients who have received it have been cured, according to a story in the Orange County Register.

Bubble baby disease occurs when the body does not produce adenosine deaminase; it is the result of a missing enzyme in a baby’s immune cells. Babies with the condition must remain in germ-free environments to survive, since even a common cold could be deadly.

August 7, 2018
Bone Marrow Transplants and Social Security Disability Benefits
By Lauren DiCenso
Outreach Specialist, Disability Benefits Help
Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the governing body that offers financial resources for those with serious illnesses who are unable to work for one year or more. If you are awaiting or have received a bone marrow transplant, you may be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

If approved, you are able to spend your benefits on any medical bills, prescriptions you are taking and any other basic day-to-day living expenses.

June 11, 2018

Specialized cells collected from the placenta after a normal birth may one day help patients suffering from acute graft-versus-host disease.

Up to 70 percent of people who receive a stem cell transplant as part of treatment for conditions like leukemia develop GvHD, a painful and life-threatening condition that is the result of the donor’s immune cells attacking the patient’s normal cells.

Steroids typically are used to prevent or reduce the effects of GvHD, but some patients do not respond to the therapy. Researchers also have been looking at mesenchymal stromal cells, which are derived from the bone marrow, for a possible treatment.

The results with MSCs alone were not promising, so a team at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden looked to see if decidua stromal cells, which are collected from the placenta, might produce better results.

May 28, 2018

An Australian man who has saved more than 2 million babies through 1,100 blood donations has made his last gift.

James Harrison gave his last plasma donation in May. He has reached the age of 80, the upper limit for donors in Australia.

Referred to as “the man with the golden arm,” Harrison started giving at the age of 18 and has made 1,172 donations through the years. In the 1960s, it was found that his blood contained a large amount of an antibody that can be used to treat Rh incompatibility, an often-fatal condition in babies when they have RH negative blood and their mothers are Rh positive.

The Australian Red Cross has estimated that treatments developed from his plasma have saved 2.4 million lives. Just 200 people in the entire country create the antibody.