9 February 2010
New 10-year UK blood stem cell strategy to be created
Stem Cell Strategic Forum to be led by NHSBT
Gillian Merron, Public Health Minister, has asked NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) to lead a team of experts in creating a new 10-year strategy for the provision of blood stem cells, including those from cord blood to fight leukaemias and other blood disorders.
The group will carry out the first UK-wide, expert-led review to ensure blood stem cells from adult donors or cord blood are available for patients requiring transplants.
The strategic review will bring together the UK’s leading experts and organisations working in this ground-breaking field of science and medicine under the leadership of NHSBT.
The UK already hosts world-leading services providing stem cells from adult and cord blood for therapeutic treatment. In October 2009, the NHS Cord Blood Bank, one of the world’s most advanced, opened its expanded state-of-the-art storage facility at Filton, Bristol. The NHS Cord Blood Bank is the fourth largest in the world with 14,500 donations available for therapeutic use; NHSBT will be increasing the bank to 20,000 donations by 2013.
Lynda Hamlyn, Chief Executive of NHSBT said: “The Department of Health is committed to making sure the UK has the best options available for NHS patients needing stem cell therapy. The launch of this ground-breaking review means the Government will have the best advice to develop and deploy these life-saving new services.
“NHSBT has 15 years of expertise in cord blood collection, banking and research. We intend to ask the country’s leading clinicians and charities working in this field to add their expertise to our own so that we can build on the success already established in bringing advanced stem cell therapy and transplantation to NHS patients.”
Gillian Merron said: “ We should make the most of the possibilities that stem cells offer to treat diseases such as leukaemia. I have asked the Forum to think about how to maximise the use of bone marrow registries and cord blood banks in finding a suitable donation to patients needing a transplant.
“National Blood Services in the UK and the Anthony Nolan Trust already provide an excellent service, led by dedicated people with a common objective – to help save more lives. I want to ensure that this work gets even better.”
Professor Charles Craddock, Chair of the Strategic Forum, said: "This is an excellent initiative that will bring together the UK's leading experts to develop a set of clear recommendations for the future of stem cell policy. I am delighted to have been asked to Chair the Strategic Forum and look forward to commencing work to determine how we can ensure the needs of patients are best met in the future."
Henny Braund, chief executive of the Anthony Nolan Trust, added: “We warmly welcome today’s announcement and are delighted to be playing a key role in this vital project, which will build on our work of 35 years, providing life-saving stem cell donors. We look forward to working with all parties in exploring the fantastic potential of cord blood to save even more lives in future.”
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Notes to editors:
- For some years, large registries of donors willing to donate blood stem cells (either as bone marrow or as a special blood donation) were the only way of finding a suitable match for a patient requiring a blood stem cell transplant for leukaemia or other blood diseases.
- Cord blood banks were then set up to complement bone marrow registries. Even today, in most cases in the UK, if a patient requires a stem cell transplant, cord blood is used only if an appropriate matched bone marrow donor cannot be found. However, the view of cord blood as complementing stem cell donations from adults is rapidly changing, and advances in technology and practice now mean that it is often seen as a more attractive and clinically viable option of first choice.
- The NHS Cord Blood Bank at Filton is now the fourth largest internationally accredited cord blood bank in the world, and has the second highest percentage of rare tissue types.
- The British Bone Marrow Registry (BBMR), run by NHSBT, is a register of over 300,000 potential bone marrow donors who have provided over 1,500 stem cell donations for patients in the UK and around the world.
- NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a Special Health Authority in the NHS. It is the organ donor organisation for the UK and is responsible for matching and allocating donated organs. Its remit also includes the provision of a reliable, efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS.
- The Strategic Review will be led by NHSBT and membership of the Forum will include representatives from, amongst others, the organisations listed below:
- Anthony Nolan Trust
- Welsh Blood Service (representing Welsh Bone Marrow Registry)
- Representative from a non-UK Registry
- British Society of Bone Marrow Transplantation Stem Cell Working Group
- National Commissioning Group
- Department of Health and Devolved Administrations
Professor Craddock studied medicine at Oxford University and underwent postgraduate training in haematology at the Hammersmith Hospital, London.
In order to pursue his interest in haematological malignancies he undertook further research at Oxford and then trained in stem cell transplantation in Seattle, Washington.
He returned to the Hammersmith Hospital in 1997 and in 1999 took up the post of Transplant Director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.
Professor Craddock is a recent President of the British Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation and sits on the UK NCRN Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and Myelodysplasia Working Parties. His main research interests include the development of novel drug and transplant therapies in myeloid leukaemias.