Vietnam successfully performs first low-cost stem cell transplant

NDO – Doctors working in the Hematology Department of Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City have announced that the hospital has successfully performed the transplant of autologous peripheral blood stem cells stored at -80C in a solution of HES 12%/DMSO 10%/Albumin 8% for a lymphoma patient.

According to Doctor Suzanne Thanh Thanh, deputy head of the Hematology Department, after over one year of receiving technical transfer from Japan’s Tsukuba University Hospital, Cho Ray Hospital decided to attempt the technique on its first patient, Duong Van Quang, a 50-year-old man from Binh Thuan province.

In September 2016, Quang was hospitalised due to a series of nodules emerging in his neck, armpit and groin areas. He was diagnosed with lymphoma and was advised to undergo chemotherapy before receiving stem cell transplants for radical treatment. After providing careful consultation for the patient, doctors separated the stem cells and stored them in a solution of HES 12%/DMSO 10%/Albumin 8% at a temperature of -80°C.

As the cancer cells were completely destroyed after eight turns of chemotherapy, the patient was transplanted with the previously stored stem cells. Now that Quang’s health has fully recovered he is able to return to work next month.

According to Le Phuoc Dam, a doctor of the Hematology Department, previously, stem cell transplants in Vietnam mainly used the method of preserving stem cells in the DMSO 5% solution stored in liquid nitrogen at the temperature of -196°C. This method required modern medical equipment, a lot of time for transplantation (about three hours) and left many side effects. Therefore, Cho Ray Hospital decided to travel to Japan to learn about the transplant technique of autologous peripheral blood stem cells, stored at -80°C in the HES 12%/DMSO 10%/Albumin 8% solution. This is the most advanced method of transplanting stem cells in the world at present, as the stem cells can be stored for five years with low preservation costs, in addition to reduced time taken for transplantation (about one hour) and fewer side effects. In addition, this method only costs roughly VND50 million (US$2,200) per patient, just half of the costs associated with the old method.

Cho Ray Hospital is the first hospital in Vietnam to successfully apply this method. According to Suzanne Thanh Thanh, this technique is not as difficult and does not require modern or expensive equipment. So, it can be applied by a number of central and provincial-level hospitals with the Hematology Department, to treat patients.

Vietnam accessed the stem cell transplant technique for the first time in 1995. So far, 10 hospitals across the country have performed stem cell transplants, with more than 500 successful cases.

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