Blood disorders are a broad category of diseases, as blood performs many essential functions. It transports nutrients and oxygen to the cells of the body; it transports waste substances to be removed from the body; and it contains immune cells, responsible for fighting infection.
Immune-mediated blood disorders cause the production of faulty immune cells, meaning that an individual cannot fight off infection. Some immune conditions can be treated with a haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplant, also called a bone marrow transplant. When a transplant is not an option, some genetic disorders can be treated by gene therapy, or hybrid gene-cell therapy, to correct the faulty gene.
Non-immune blood disorders most commonly related to the production of faulty red blood cells. This can be the result of genetics or lifestyle factors. These disorders may be treated with HSC transplants.
The over-production of any one type of blood cell results in different forms of blood cancer. The cells which are over-produced are usually faulty, and so do not function correctly. Furthermore, the increase in the production of one cell type means that other types make up a smaller proportion of the blood, and cannot perform their role as normal. Blood cancers may be treated with cell therapies such as HSC transplants. Certain blood cancers can be treated with chimaeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy, a hybrid gene and cell therapy. Researchers are working to develop new forms of this therapy to treat other blood cancers.
Improving our knowledge of the blood and immune systems broadens our understanding of blood disorders, and this improved knowledge means that researchers can work to target the precise cause of a disorder.