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Innovative Stem Cell Transplant Technique In Singapore Provides Improved Outcomes For Blood Cancer Patients

Stem cell transplant for blood cancer treatment

The National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS) announced Dec 22, the development of a novel technique for the selection of blood stem cells for stem cell transplantation. This technique, named “Haplo-2017 protocol”, enables the acceptance of blood stem cells from donors who were previously deemed unsuitable. It hence makes it easier and faster for blood cancer patients in Singapore to find suitable donors.

Innovative Technique For Stem Cell Cancer Treatment In Singapore

A stem cell transplant is a bone marrow transplant wherein a patient’s diseased bone marrow is replaced with healthy cells. It is one of the ways to treat blood cancers such as leukemia, myeloma, and lymphoma.

The Haplo-2017 protocol was developed by a team of NCIS hematologists together with other clinicians from local healthcare institutions. Between 2017 and 2022, more than 100 haploidentical blood stem cell transplants utilising the Haplo-2017 procedure were carried out in Singapore. About 70% of patients had good outcomes, such as no further cancer signs and no transplant-related complications problems.

Donor Matching For Blood Stem Cell Transplants For Cancer Treatment Made Easier

Conventionally, blood stem cell transplants require finding donors whose human leukocyte antigen (HLA) markers fully match those of the patients. Otherwise, there will be a higher risk of transplant-related complications such as transplant rejection and infections. However, finding a fully matching donor is difficult – even within a patient’s family (only about 30% of patients are able to find a fully matched donor within the family). It thus takes more time to find a suitable donor. Delay in treatment is detrimental to the chances for successfully dealing with the disease.

Using the Haplo-2017 protocol, donors no longer need to have fully matching HLA markers. Unlike conventional blood stem cell transplant whereby the patient receives all of the donor’s collected stem cells, Haplo-2017 enables doctors to transplant only collected stem cells that are non-harmful, while eliminating those that will cause rejection. Additionally, the patient receives stem cells that can strengthen their immune system, reducing their chance of contracting potentially fatal infections.

Benefits To Blood Cancer Patients

With the Haplo-2017 protocol, blood cancer patients thus have more opportunities to find suitable stem cell donors. This means that they will be able to receive transplants sooner and improved chances of successful cancer treatment.

Patients may also avoid the need for immunosuppressants after treatment, which are known to have negative health effects. There is also a lower likelihood of patients requiring readmission for complications arising from stem cell transplants.

Further Refinement To Stem Cell Transplant Technique

NCIS will work towards further refinement of the Haplo-2017 protocol to continue to lower the risk of rejection and disease recurrence.

About National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS)

From NCIS press release

The National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS) is a national specialist centre under the National University Health System (NUHS), and is the only public cancer centre in Singapore that treats both paediatric and adult cancers in one facility. NCIS (n-sis) offers a broad spectrum of cancer care and management from screening, diagnosis and treatment, to rehabilitation, palliative and long-term care. NCIS’s strength lies in the multi-disciplinary approach taken by our clinician-scientists and clinician-investigators to develop a comprehensive and personalised plan for each cancer patient.

NCIS cancer services span across several acute hospitals: NCIS @ National University Hospital, NCIS @ Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, NCIS @ Alexandra Hospital, and the NCIS Radiation Therapy Centre @ Tan Tock Seng Hospital. We also deliver a range of cancer services for our patients’ convenience at satellite clinics in the community, as well as in the comfort of their homes.

For NCIS appointment information, you may please visit their website.

Further Reading On Blood Cancer

This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.