In a significant development for stem cell therapy, researchers have found that partial matches can now be used for lifesaving treatment for certain blood cancers and diseases, expanding the options for patients. Dr. Suresh Nair of the LVHN remarked on the breakthrough, stating that it is “an amazing week for stem cell therapy and for transplant.” This development comes as the LVHN’s Topper Cancer Institute launched a 30-bed stem cell transplant center, eliminating the need for patients in the Lehigh Valley to travel to other cities for treatment.
However, in order for these stem cell transplants to take place, donors are crucially needed. The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) plays a vital role in facilitating these transplants, having facilitated over 125,000 blood stem cell transplants in the last 35 years. Erica Sevilla of the NMDP emphasized the importance of donors aged 18-40 joining the registry, which currently stands at 9 million donors. Joining the registry involves a simple cheek swab, and if a match is found, the process typically involves a nonsurgical procedure where stem cells are extracted from one arm.
This breakthrough in stem cell therapy and the opening of the stem cell transplant center signify a significant step in bringing breakthrough cancer treatments closer to the Lehigh Valley. The need for donors to join the registry is the key to making these transplants possible and saving lives.