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02 Oct 2011 0 Comments

Japanese Nuclear Workers to Use Stem Cell Transplants

In the wake of the nuclear disaster in Japan, Japanese officials have proposed harvesting stem cells from the bone marrow of workers before sending them into nuclear plants like Fukushima, as a precautionary measure.

These stem cell transplants could offer a potentially life-saving treatment option for Japanese nuclear workers who may be exposed to unsafe levels of radiation, which could damage the bone marrow.

To facilitate the stem cell transplant procedure, the workers would have to take specialized drugs (called blood growth factor proteins) for several days, to help stem cells get released into their blood stream. These cells can then be extracted through apheresis. ( process commonly used for the donation of blood plasma and platelets). The stem cells would then be stored and returned later to an exposed worker’s body through a process called engraftment, (incorporation of grafted stem cells into the body).

Many among the medical fraternity, including leading European hospitals have offered to aid in these procedures, believing it to be a big step forward in saving lives. Critics however have their own worries. The main concern being that exposure to high levels of radiation can harm many areas of the body, not just the bone marrow; making stem cell bone marrow transplants far from a pancea for exposed nuclear workers. The relevant agencies are working to provide optimal solutions and successful implementation would lead to a revolution of sorts in the industry.



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