October 1, 2018

Donating peripheral blood stem cells was so simple for Nicholas that he didn’t fully realize the value of his precious gift.

“People keep reminding me that I’m saving a life, and how important that is, but I don’t think it’s struck me yet,” he said. “I know that in a year we can start exchanging letters, and that’s the point when I’m really going to realize this is something big.”

Stem cell donations help people with blood cancers and other blood disorders rebuild their immune systems and blood cells at the end of treatments. Under guidelines from Be The Match, the national database of stem cell and bone marrow donors, patients and their donors can’t contact each other until a year after the donation.

“If you’ve ever donated blood, this hurts a lot less,” said Nicholas, who is a government and history major at the University of Texas at Austin.

September 24, 2018

The rate of severe complications during obstetric emergencies in the United States increased 45 percent from 2006 to 2015, according to new research done by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The most common medical treatment performed during these high-risk pregnancies was a blood transfusion, mainly for conditions such as circulatory shock, amniotic fluid embolism, sickle cell disease and disseminated intravascular coagulation.

Nationally, about 2.2 percent of red blood cell transfusions are used for obstetrics and gynecology, according to the 2013 AABB Blood Survey Report.

September 17, 2018

Healthy airway stem cells could be used one day to replace the damaged cells that cause cystic fibrosis, providing a new form of treatment for the genetic disorder.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide used techniques similar to those employed for stem cell treatments of autoimmune conditions to make the discovery, according to a report on their study published in Stem Cell Research & Therapy and summarized at Rare Disease Report.

In cystic fibrosis, patients’ lungs and digestive systems become blocked by an overproduction of mucus. There is no cure for cystic fibrosis.

In the study, the Australian researchers collected adult stem cells from the lungs of adult cystic fibrosis patients, then corrected the gene using gene therapy. They tested the theory in mice.

September 10, 2018

A bacteria well-known for making people sick may hold the key to beating a common health problem in the United States.

Researchers at the University of Colorado have found that E. coli, which has been blamed for multiple outbreaks of food poisoning, produces a compound that can help move iron into the body more efficiently.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional problems in this country, and it also is the most-common reasons for deferring potential blood donors. (South Texas Blood & Tissue Center launched a pilot program in August to boost iron levels in teenaged blood donors – click here to learn more.)

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.