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Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Program

The Banner MD Anderson Cancer Stem Cell Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program was founded in 2013. Starting with autologous stem cell transplants, the program then transitioned to include related donor allogeneic stem cell transplants in 2014. In 2017, we became accredited with the Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapy for autologous, allogeneic and immune effector cell therapy.

Our world-renowned team provides compassionate care to the patient, their family and their support system. This program provides services for matched, mismatched related and unrelated donors, cord blood and haplo-identical transplants.

What Is Stem Cell Transplantation?

Stem cells are immature cells that eventually develop into the various types of mature blood cells, including:

  • Red blood cells, which carry oxygen
  • Platelets, which help the blood clot
  • White blood cells, which help fight infection

A stem cell transplant replaces defective or damaged cells in patients whose normal blood cells have been crowded out by cancerous cells. Transplants can also be used to treat hereditary disorders, like sickle cell anemia, or to help patients recover from, or better tolerate, cancer treatment.

What Cancers or Other Diseases Does Banner MD Anderson Treat?

Banner MD Anderson's Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Center treats a wide variety of cancers, hematologic diseases, and autoimmune disorders. These diseases include:

  • Acute or chronic leukemia
  • Amyloidosis
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Aplastic anemia or other bone marrow failure syndromes
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Waldenström's macroglobulinemia

Our advanced cell processing laboratory is dedicated to preparing safe and effective stem cell products for transplantation. In addition to inpatient and outpatient services, the Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Center has a dedicated clinic and infusion center that helps monitor and manage complications of stem cell transplantation, including graft versus host disease.

How Does Stem Cell Transplantation Work and Where Do the Stem Cells Come From?

A stem cell transplant procedure can be performed using your own stem cells (autologous) or another person’s stem cells (allogeneic). Stem cell transplantation offers potentially curative therapy to patients with a variety of cancers.

Stem cells for transplant come from the following sources:

  • Autologous transplant: cells are taken from the patient's own bone marrow before chemotherapy and are then replaced after cancer treatment
  • Allogeneic transplant: stem cells come from a donor whose tissue most closely matches the patient
  • Cord Blood Transplant: We are in the process of developing this program and expect to be operational soon

How Are Stem Cell Donors Identified?

Human leukocyte antigen typing, or HLA, is the method by which stem cell transplant patients are matched with eligible donors. HLA are proteins that exist on the surface of most cells in the body.

The closest possible match between the HLA markers of the donor and the patient reduces the risk of graft versus host disease (GVHD). This condition occurs after transplant when your immune cells attack the donor cells, or when the donor cells attack your cells. The best match is usually a first-degree relative (siblings, children or parents). However, about 75 percent of patients do not have a suitable donor in their family and require cells from matched unrelated donors. These donors are found through registries such as the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP).

HLA typing is done with a blood sample or mouth swab taken from the patient, which is then compared with samples from a family member or a donor registry.

Matched Unrelated Donor Program

Ideally, a brother, sister or another family member can serve as the stem cell donor. For those patients without a family or related donor, the unrelated transplant coordinator team, working in conjunction with the NMPD, helps identify HLA-matched unrelated donors (MUD).

Stem Cell Transplant Coordination

Our unrelated transplant coordinators will supervise the search process and the pre-transplant evaluation and testing of the donor and recipient. The unrelated transplant coordinators will have the most up-to-date information regarding the matched unrelated donor process.

For any questions regarding unrelated transplantation or the donation process, contact your unrelated transplantation coordinator.