Illustrative image (Source: VNA)
HCM City (VNA) - The country’s first patient transplanted with his own stem cells, frozen for preservation, to replace stem cells destroyed by chemotherapy or radiation is well on the way to full recovery from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, local doctors have said.

The autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation by cryopreservation at -80 Celsius was performed in June at Ho Chi Minh City’s Cho Ray Hospital on a 50-year-old male who had completed eight chemotherapy cycles, said Le Phuoc Dam, deputy head of the hospital’s haematology unit.

The patient had been admitted last September and diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that originates in the lymphatic system, the body’s disease-fighting network. He was discharged from hospital three weeks.

According to Doctor Dam, Vietnam mainly uses stem cell cryopreservation in Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) with concentration of 5 percent at -196 Celsius. This method requires advanced devices, equipment and long transplantation time (about 180 minutes) and poses side effects related to heart beat and blood pressure.

Ten institutes and hospitals have so far performed more than 500 stem cell transplants by cryopreservation at -196 Celsius.

Autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation by cryopreservation at a higher temperature, -80 Celsius, is a highly effective therapy for improving the chances of disease-free survival, Dam said at a press meeting on July 18. He added that it was the best method so far with preservation time of about five years, low cost of stem cell preservation, transplant time of about 60 minutes and fewer side effects.

At around 50 million VND (2,200 USD), the procedure costs half that of transplantation by cryopreservation at -196 Celsius, he said.

Cho Ray Hospital is the first in Vietnam to successfully apply the method. According to Dr Suzanne Thanh Thanh, deputy head of the hospital’s haematology unit, this method is not complicated and does not require costly equipment. The hospital needs a freezer that can be regulated to -80 degrees, a doctor and two nurses. Central and provincial-level hospitals which have blood departments can also apply this method.

According to medical experts, blood stem cell transplantation expands longevity and improves life quality, even curing some diseases. Vietnam began stem cell transplantation in 1995, Doctor Dam said.

With technical assistance from Japan’s Tsukuba University Hospital, Cho Ray has applied advanced technology in the treatment of lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Since 2013 it has performed 36 stem cell transplants.-VNA