Stem Cell Therapy has the Potential to Correct Genetic Disorders and Long Term Cures in Several Blood Cancers

Having about 10 years of rich experince practice in general medicine and haematology at eminent instituions across the across India and USA, Dr Punit Jain is a specialist in blood related disorders including Cancer. He is proficient in the management of conditions like Thalassemia, Leukemia, Aplastic Anaemia, Lymphomas etc. and has been involved as a physician for high-end procedures like Stem Cell Transplant.

Dr. Punit Jain, Consultant Hematologist and Stem cell transplant Physician, Global Hospitals, Mumbai, in an email interaction with Ekta Srivastava, Health Technology

What are stem cells and what do they do?

Stem cells are special cells in the body with a capacity and a potential to regenerate and sustain long term formation and development of differenttypes of cells in the body. As stem cells differentiate, they commit themselves to particular cell types.

What body areas do you typically treat?

As a haematologist and a bone marrow transplant physician, we treat all variety of disorders related to the blood, bone marrow and lymph nodes. This includes all patients with abnormal haemoglobin disorders for ex. Thalessemias, sickle cell anemias, disorders of the white cell count (aplasias of bone marrow), as well as disorders of platelets. Such patients also include patients with blood cancers like leukemias, lymphomas and multiple myelomas. In addition, we deal in all disorders related to blood clotting, as well as excessive bleeding.

Who is a candidate for hematopoietic stem cell therapy?

Stem cell therapy used in the treatment of haematological disorders are called as hematopoietic stem cell therapy and have a broad indication and includes non-cancerous conditions like thalassemia’s, immunodeficiency syndromes, aplasia of the bone marrow, blood cancers like leukemias, lymphomas and multiple myelomas (Only certain types of high risk blood cancers require stem cell therapy, that too after initial treatment with chemotherapy).

What should a patient expect during the treatment?

The treatment process involves administration of guided chemotherapy regimens, which helps in creating space in the bone marrow for the new stem cells to come in and regenerate new blood cells. During this entire process, patients have a very poor immune status and are prone to severe infections and bleeding considering the low platelet count.  In addition, sometimes patients develop toxic side effects of the chemotherapy.

Is hematopoietic stem cell transplant therapy safe?

Hematopoietic stem cell transplant therapy comes with its fair share of risks and has to be done under proper supervision and expert hands, in an environment conducive for its administration.

When can patients expect to see results?

Hematopoietic stem cell therapy usually takes atleast 3 weeks for the donor cells to take over the host immune system in successful cases.

In your opinion, how will stem cell therapies impact the future of medicine?

Stem cell therapy has the potential to repopulate and regenerate cells. Bone marrow transplants are the most successfully used stem cell therapy and has the potential to correct genetic disorders and provide long term cures in several blood cancers.

What intrigues you most about hematology/oncology and who or what encouraged you to pursue this subspecialty of medicine?

 The ability to transform lives through bone marrow transplants (BMT)has and will always remain the most exciting aspect of hematology.

What would you say to a young patient who shares an interest in hematology and hopes to be a researcher one day?

I wish him a steady recovery and encouraging wishes to follow his passion.Hematology is a very exciting field with newer discoveries occurring very rapidly, and it would be thrilling and very satisfying to be a part of this journey in hematology.

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