Antibodies, which the body produces to fight infection, are a particular type of protein called gamma globulin. If patients cannot produce their own antibodies it may be possible to give gamma globulin to protect them against infection.
Normally the blood contains a variety of different gamma globulins (antibody molecules) to fight different infections. In some conditions there are large numbers of identical plasma cells (a clone) all producing the same gamma globulin – this is known as monoclonal gammopathy.
Formed from DNA and carried on the chromosomes, genes direct the activities of cells. They are responsible for the inherited characteristics which distinguish one person from another. Each human being has an estimated 23,000 separate genes.
DNA is made up of strings of four chemicals called bases, sometimes referred to as ‘letters’. The sequence of these bases makes up the ‘words’ of the genetic code.
Rarely, when a patient has an allogeneic stem cell transplant, the new bone marrow will fail to start producing blood cells. When this happens it is called graft rejection. It may be possible to do a second transplant when this happens.
Graft versus host disease (GvHD)
A common, and potentially serious, complication of stem cell transplantation. This happens when some of the donor’s immune cells reject the patient’s own cells as foreign. The skin, liver and gut may be affected. It can occur in either chronic or acute forms and can be treated with immunosuppressive drugs.
Graft versus leukaemia (GvL)
When the allografted stem cells attack the patient’s leukaemia. If graft versus host disease is present but not severe, it may help to kill of leukaemia cells.
A type of white blood cell which includes basophils, eosinophils and neutrophils. They are filled with tiny granules which contain important proteins.
These are proteins which the body produces to control production of blood cells in the bone marrow. Some are available as drugs and can be used to stimulate normal white cell production.