How Are Stem Cells Preserved?

A close up of a staff member wearing PPE and injecting stem cells into a vile.

Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre is one of three hospitals in Ontario providing all forms of adult stem cell transplants. A stem cell transplant is a method of replacing cells in the bone marrow that cause cancer. New stem cells are infused into the patient so they can attack the diseased cells.

Autologous transplants (which use a patient’s own stem cells), are collected from a patient and infused at a later date. The Stem Cell Laboratory plays a vital role in preserving these stem cells.

Specialized approach

“Once the cells are collected, they are separated into special small bags. A special solution is added to the cells so that they can withstand extreme cold storage temperatures lower than -155 C,” says Technical Specialist Anna MacDonald. “This allows storage of cells for up to 10 years. When it’s time to reinfuse the cells, they are carefully warmed at bedside right before infusion.”

“We are proud of our stem cell program.”

The entire transplant team is highly specialized in providing patients with this complex but potentially life-saving medical procedure.

“We are proud of our stem cell program,” says Hematologist Dr. Ronan Foley. “With the upcoming expansion, we’re excited for the new and innovative therapies that will be available to better serve our patients.”

Tomorrow Stems From You®

Construction is ongoing for the Adult Stem Cell Transplant Unit at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre. While there was a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, construction now continues and the unit is expected to start caring for patients in the fall.