What is aplastic anaemia?

Aplastic anaemia (AA) is a rare but serious acquired blood disorder, where the bone marrow fails to produce essential blood cells. Approximately 100-150 new patients are diagnosed with aplastic anaemia in the UK each year. It is not a form of cancer.

All blood cells are made from special cells in the bone marrow called stem cells. Stem cells are new ‘baby’ blood forming cells that grow and develop into all the different blood cells that our body needs to function.

The three main circulating blood cells are the red blood cells (responsible for carrying oxygen around the body), white blood cells (responsible for helping us fight infections, bugs and germs) and platelets (responsible for stopping us bleeding and bruising). In aplastic anaemia these blood cells are reduced and the bone marrow stem cells replaced by fat cells.

What causes aplastic anaemia?