Please Note: Blog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors.

Opinion, Stem Cell Issues in Japan

Japanese medical experts are advising blood be taken from workers at nuclear plant(s) to prepare for possible future stem cell transplants if they were/are exposed to damaging levels of radiation.

According to a report in the journal, Lancet, doctors from the Cancer Institute, the Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research and Toranomon Hospital in Tokyo are urging the blood samples to be taken as soon as possible, as radiation is still a danger. 107 transplant teams are ready in Japan to collect and store stem cells from the nuclear plant workers, along with 50 European hospitals. (Fox News/Reuters)

The cells that are at the highest risk to radiation exposure include rapidly dividing cells like intestinal tract cells, reproductive cells, and haemopoietic cells, which are the precursor to stem cells that cover a wide range of areas in the body.

The Bottom Line: Health officials should collect blood from workers at the crippled nuclear power plant(s) in case they are accidentally exposed to high levels of radiation and need a stem cell transplant. Gathering blood from the workers would supply a ready source of their own stem cells to rebuild their bone marrow if exposed to high levels of radiation. Collecting cells from the workers has several advantages over donated cells, which require finding a matching donor and carry the risk of rejection. Stem cell transplants from a person’s own cells would allow the workers to avoid taking drugs to suppress the immune system and resist infections. The cells could quickly restore normal function for making blood cells. Workers’ cells could be banked and stored in case they develop leukemia, which could happen years down the road. Previous nuclear disasters have only utilized allogeneic stem cell transplants, which uses stem cells from a donor. These transplants pose major limitations, like immune suppression, donor searching and graft failure. An autologous stem cell transplantation using a collection of the patient’s peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) own stem cells have several advantages. It does not require immunosuppressant drugs, and can restore normal function in the body quicker. The collection method is safe, and the cells are easily frozen and stored. NeoStem Inc. (NBS) has a unique approach for use by individuals exposed to acute radiation syndrome to bank cells. Remember, its core business is the collection and storage of stem cells. NBS’ acquisition of Progenitor Cell Therapy positions them to assist … and Jason Kolbert speaks fluent Japanese having lived there as a Marine officer and an executive with Schering-Plough!