The low down in the lab: what in the world is HLA typing?

14 September 2018

HLA typing is the process of determining a registered donor's Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA) tissue characteristics. HLA are proteins or markers found on all cells in your body. These proteins are used by your immune system to recognise which cells belong to your body and which cells do not. 

After  registering as a blood stem cell donor and returning your swab kit, we send the kits straight to the DKMS lab to get this process underway. In order to perform high resolution, high capacity HLA typing, the DKMS Life Science Lab employs the most advanced biotechnological methods. 

If a patient receives stem cells whose proteins do not match theirs, their body would reject the donated stem cells. A close match means the patient’s immune system would recognise the donor’s stem cells as its own. As a result, the donor’s immune and blood systems will be transferred to the recipient. 

With thousands of tissue characteristics that can occur in millions of combinations, finding a match can be very challenging. 

This is why more donors = more hope.  

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