Stem Cell Transplant

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Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML):
Leukemia is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow that results when a blood stem cell called a "blast" becomes altered and undergoes abnormally rapid growth. This means that white blood cell blasts accumulate in the bone marrow and interfere with the production of normal blood cells. Myeloid leukemia is cancer of the myeloblast cells in the blood.

Adult stem cells:
Also known as somatic stem cells or tissue specific stem cells. Found in both juveniles and adults, these stem cells are capable of dividing or self-renewing indefinitely and generate all the cell types of the organ from which they originate.

Auer rods:
Long thin rods inside the myeloblast cells. They are an indication that the patient has AML, or Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

A protein that can latch onto the surface of a cell like a key in a lock. If the structure on the outside of the cell matches then the biomarker attaches itself to the cell membrane. Different cells have different structures on their membranes, so the presence of a biomarker helps in identifying a cell type or in isolating the cell type when trying to purify a culture. Cell sorting techniques are based on the presence of cellular biomarkers.

The process of removing a tissue sample for analysis or diagnosis usually in the form of a skin punch.

Biosafety cabinet:
A cabinet that filters air to prevent biohazards from escaping or contamination of the culture from outside air. If the cabinet has a higher safety rating, it can be used in more clinical settings so that a patient's cells remain safe.

Short for 'biotechnology.' The use of biological knowledge, microorganisms and biological processes in industrial or manufacturing processes. Examples include synthetic hormones, bacteria to clean up oil spills, genetic engineering, as well as cell and tissue cultures.

Bone marrow:
Most large bones have a soft, spongy tissue in the center that produce the white cells, red cells, and platelets of blood. Bone marrow is also home to a number of different adult stem cells.

A physician who treats problems of the cardiovascular system, which includes the heart, arteries, and veins in the body.

A hollow tube inserted into a body cavity, typically to withdraw or introduce fluid. There are many different types of catheters, including cardiac catheters and urinary catheters. Congestive Heart Failure – a condition in which the heart does not pump enough to circulate blood effectively throughout the body. Symptoms vary widely, but the body can begin to retain fluid, lungs can become congested making it difficult for the person to breathe, and fluid can accumulate in the extremities.

Introduction of a catheter into the body. In the case of cardiac catheterization, the procedure is performed to diagnose problems of the heart, study blood flow or to repair damage or open blocked arteries.

Cell counter:
A machine in which cells are routed one at a time through a capillary tube past a laser beam. The scattering of light from each cell is analyzed by sophisticated software giving a count of the likely distribution of different types of cells.

Treatment of cancer with various drugs that destroy cancer cells. Many of these treatments have side effects that affect healthy cells, as well.

Clinical Trial:
Testing potential medical therapies in human patients. Phase 1 trials are the first time the proposed therapy is tested in humans. In Phase 1, usually a very small number of people, 10 to 20, are used to test the safety of a new therapy or drug, how well it can be tolerated and what the right amounts of treatment would be. Phase 2 trials involve 30-300 patients and are designed to prove the drug or therapy works and to continue to test the safety of the therapy and to determine if there are any harmful side effects. Phase 3 trials involve thousands of patients and can last many years. Phase 3 compares the new therapy to what is already approved and available to patients. New therapies have to be better than the current standards of care and this must be proven in the final phase of trials before the Food and Drug Administration will approve the therapy for use in all patients who might need it.

ClinMACS® machine:
A cell sorting machine used by scientists to achieve pure cultures of a particular type of cell that is sorted according to the biomarker that binds to it.

Bringing a product or technology to market or making it commercially viable.

The second stage of a stem cell transplant where massive amounts of chemotherapy are administered to the patient to rid the body of the leukemic cells and the patient's immune system and make room in the bone marrow for the new stem cells that will be administered.

Contrast Dye
Used in X-ray and CT (computed tomography) scans to highlight a particular tissue like blood vessels or the digestive tract. The dye typically contains barium or iodine.

Cord blood:
Blood that is collected from the placenta through the umbilical cord. Cord blood is a rich source of hematopoietic, or blood, stem cells. The cord blood is taken and stored in special banks for future uses.

Culture plate:
A flat, transparent dish capable of holding some sort of liquid (medium) on which cells are grown.

The ability of a cell to change from one type to another. A stem cell can differentiate into other types of cells, such as a mesenchymal stem cell changing into an osteocyte, or bone cell. The stem cell may go through a number of different steps from less specialized cells (precursor cells) to more specific tissue like skin or muscle.

An ultrasound image of the heart.

Set of cells in the developing embryo that give rise to the central nervous system, the lens of the eye, cranial and sensory, the ganglia and nerves, pigment cells, head connective tissues, the epidermis, hair, and mammary glands.

Ejection fraction or left ventricular ejection fraction :
The amount of blood the left ventricle pumps out to the body per beat of the heart.

Set of cells in the developing embryo that give rise to the stomach, the colon, the liver, the pancreas, the urinary bladder, the lining of the urethra, the epithelial parts of trachea, the lungs, the pharynx, the thyroid, the parathyroid, and the intestines.

Epithelial Stem Cells:
A multipotent stem cell found in skin that give rise to hair follicles, sweat glands, and skin cells.

Ficoll is a liquid that is used to separate the components of blood into its various components.

Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD):
When new cells from a stem cell transplant begin to attack the cells of the patient's body.

A type of white blood cell filled with sacs of enzymes that digest other cells.

Hematopoietic Stem Cell:
A multipotent stem cell (can turn into several different types of blood cells) found in bone marrow or peripheral blood. It gives rise to all the types of blood cells: red blood cells, B lymphocytes, T lymphocytes, natural killer cells, neutrophils, basophils, eosinophils, monocytes, and macrophages.

Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA):
A type of protein that is found on the outer surfaces of cells that is made up of six antigens. These antigens are molecules that help your body identify which cells belong to your body and which do not. If the HLA doesn't match up, the new immune system being given from the stem cell donor will identify the patient's cells as not belonging and attack them.

A sealed box used to maintain constant temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels. This is necessary so that the cells grow like they would in the body.

Intestinal Stem Cell:
A multipotent cell found in the intestine, giving rise to all types of cells in the gut such as enterocytes, goblet cells, paneth cells, and endocrine cells.

Heart Disease:
A term that refers to a variety of diseases that include problems with blood vessels, such as coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); heart infections; and congenital heart defects.

Heart Attack:
Death or injury to the heart muscle itself caused by obstruction in the arteries that feed blood to the heart. Also known as a myocardial infarction.

A cancer of the blood or bone marrow that results when a blood stem cell called a "blast" becomes altered and undergoes abnormally rapid growth. This means that white blood cell blasts accumulate in the bone marrow and interfere with the production of normal blood cells. Symptoms of leukemia include; fatigue, bruising and bleeding, pallor, discomfort from enlarged organs, and increased rates of infection, since the white blood cells are not functioning properly as immune cells.

Liquid nitrogen:
Nitrogen gas frozen into its liquid state, which is usually at 67 degrees Kelvin or -210 degrees Celsius. Liquid nitrogen is a fairly inert substance and is used to freeze tissue and fluid samples quickly, preventing the damage that often occurs when living organisms and cells are frozen slowly. Tissue and fluid samples can be kept for months or years since the super low temperature stops the tissue from aging.

Media (singular is medium):
A liquid or gel designed to encourage the growth of cells in a culture. The media can contain different nutrients, enzymes or stimulants, depending on what it is designed to do.

Mesenchymal Stem Cell:
A multipotent cell (can turn into cells found in the mesoderm) found in bone marrow, cord blood, peripheral blood, fat and fetal liver and lungs. Its primary function is to give rise to a variety of cell types: bone cells (osteocytes), cartilage cells (chondrocytes), fat cells (adipocytes), and other kinds of connective tissue cells such as those in tendons and ligaments.

Set of cells in the developing embryo that give rise to the skeletal muscle, the skeleton, the dermis of skin, connective tissue, the urogenital system, the heart, blood (lymph cells), and the spleen.

Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire:
A 21 question test that patients fill out that measures their perception of the degree to which heart failure is impacting their lives. It asks questions about the physical and emotional aspects of living with heart failure. On this test, the lower the score, the better. Generally, 0 – 10 means the heart failure is not impacting their lives much. Fifty or more means that the heart failure is severely impacting all aspects of the patient's life.

Stem cells that can give rise to several different types of cells, but the number is limited.

Multipotent Adult Progenitor Cells (MAPCs):
Bone marrow-derived stem cells that can differentiate into tissue cells of all 3 germinal layers: ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm. They are being used in many stem cell research projects to help patients with a variety of conditions.

A unipotent stem cell that gives rise to white blood cells, including granulocytes, monocytes and platelets

Myocardial Infarction:
Death or injury to the heart muscle itself caused by obstruction in the arteries that feed blood to the heart. Also known as a heart attack.

Places in the body where adult stem cells can be found. This microenvironment is a storage space for stem cells and will ultimately determine what the stem cell will become. The niche contains stimulants that either instruct the stem cell to self-maintain or turn into various cells of the organ where the niche is located.

Neural Stem Cell:
A multipotent cell found in the brain that gives rise to nerve cells (neurons) and two categories of glial cells - astrocytes and oligodendrocytes.

The most common type of white blood cell. They can ingest other cells and are the first immune cells to arrive at a site of infection. Neutrophils are present in the bloodstream until signaled to a site of infection by chemical cues in the body, arriving at the site of infection within an hour.

A mature bone cell.

A handheld instrument with a narrow plastic or glass tube that is marked for measuring (graduated) and is used to transfer small amounts of liquids sometimes containing cells.

A ring of DNA that will replicate within a cell independently of the chromosomal DNA. Plasmids are most often taken from bacteria or viruses and are used in research to transfer genes between cells.

Stem cells that can generate virtually every cell type but cannot form a total organism.

Also known as a blast cell or simply blast, a precursor cell is a partially differentiated, usually unipotent cell (only turns into one type of cell) that has lost most or all of the stem cell potency. It will give rise to a particular type of cell, such as a bone cell or a fat cell.

Resting Perfusion:
Analysis of the passage of blood through the heart or a particular organ.

SDF1, or Stromal Cell Derived Factor 1:
The signal that calls adult stem cells, also known as stromal cells, to a location where damage has occurred, to assist in repair. Once the stem cells reach the damaged area, they perform vascularization, prevention of cell death, and differentiation into cells like the damaged tissue.

A cell that is capable of dividing and making exact copies of itself. Stem cells are capable of self renewal, while most other types of cells are not.

Six Minute Walk Test:
A low-tech test that simply measures how far a person can walk in six minutes. Patients with the most severe cases of heart failure might have to stop numerous times during the 6 minutes and are monitored to make certain this isn't too stressful for the heart. Normal range for this test is 500 meters, depending on the patient's age, height, weight and gender.

Somatic stem cells:
Also known as adult stem cells – are found in both juveniles and adults, these stem cells are capable of dividing or self-renewing indefinitely and generate all the cell types of the organ from which they originate.

Stem cell biologist:
A scientist who works with stem cells.

Stem cell line:
A group of stem cells that have the following two traits:

  1. They divide and make exact copies of themselves. This is called self-renewal.
  2. They can change into distinct precursors of all sorts of different cells. This is called differentiation.

Stress Test:
A patient is required to exercise on a treadmill or exercise bike while their heart rate, blood pressure, electrocardiogram (ECG), and symptoms are monitored..

T cell:
A type of white blood cell that has a receptor on the cell surface that recognizes other cells in the body as belonging or being foreign. T cells are especially important in the defense against tumor cells and pathogenic organisms inside body cells.

Stem cells that can give rise to every type of cell in the body and can form an entire organism. Embryonic stem cells are totipotent.

Stem cells that generate one type of cell like bone or fat.

Number of blood vessels available to help the heart tissue.