Haematopoietic Progenitor Cells (HPCs) are best known as stem cells and are present in blood and bone marrow. HPCs are capable of forming all the blood cell types - white cells (the cells that fight infection), red cells (the cells that carry oxygen) and platelets (the cells that help stop bleeding).
The Tissue, Cells and Advance Therapeutics Department within the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service provides processing, storage and issue of HPCs and related products to support the Clinical HPC Transplant programme in Scotland.
HPC transplantation is vital to correct defects in bone marrow, either inherited or because of disease. It is also essential in the treatment of leukaemia and other types of cancer to make bone marrow effective again after chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
HPCs are collected either from the bone marrow or from the peripheral blood by apheresis. They are then frozen in liquid nitrogen where they can remain available for treatment for many years.
Depending on the type of disease requiring treatment, the stem cells may be obtained from the individual patient, from a close relative, or from a matched altruistic donor.
Anthony Nolan is a charity that finds matched donors for leukaemia patients who need a lifesaving stem cell or bone marrow transplant.
Visit the Anthony Nolan website for more information.