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Press releases

NHS Blood and Transplant and Anthony Nolan welcome funding to help save and improve lives through stem cell transplantation

NHS Blood and Transplant

4 min read Partner content

NHS Blood and Transplant and blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan will share 3 million funding to continue their work to support stem cell transplantation and save more lives.

Both organisations welcome the one year investment from the Department of Health, which was announced by George Freeman MP, Minister for Life Sciences today.

Following the publication of the updated UK Stem Cell Strategy , NHS Blood and Transplant and Anthony Nolan hope the continued investment will:

  • allow more patients to benefit from lifesaving treatment through the high resolution typing of young adult stem cell donors, including those from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority populations;

  • enable the collection and banking of high dose cord blood units typed to a high resolution

Andrew Hadley, General Manager of Specialist Services Operations at NHS Blood and Transplant said: "It's great the Department of Health has given us more funding to continue our work saving and improving lives through stem cell and cord blood donation. We are aiming for an inventory of 30,000 cord blood donations by 2018. We are also working to recruit young men from all ethnic backgrounds on to the Anthony Nolan and NHS Stem Cell Registry. By 2020 we hope to have 150,000 adult stem cell donors typed to a high resolution which will reduce not only the time it takes to match patients with donors, but for people in desperate need of a transplant to receive lifesaving treatment."

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: "The injection of additional funding from the Department of Health is most welcome and will make a considerable difference in helping us save more lives. It will enable us to increase the number and quantity of stem cells available for transplant and build on the progress of the Anthony Nolan and NHS Stem Cell Registry in streamlining and speeding up a process where every minute counts. Around half of all patients still succumb to transplant complications and disease relapse; this investment will help us drive forward vital initiatives to enable patient outcomes to keep pace with science."

Recruiting and typing potential stem cell donors to the Anthony Nolan and NHS Stem Cell Registry will continue to be a priority. NHS Blood and Transplant is the first in the UK to pioneer the use of next generation sequencing testing to type adult stem cell and cord blood units at an allelic level to match patients and donors. They will use their share of the funding to continue this testing.

Anthony Nolan will build on the success of its Asian and African Caribbean recruitment over the last three years. They aim to sign up 1,000 African Caribbean potential donors this year to help expand the donor pool. This will increase the probability of people from African Caribbean communities finding a match.

Over the last four years, NHS Blood and Transplant and Anthony Nolan have together reached a number of key milestones including:

  • More UK patients receiving a potentially life saving stem cell transplant than ever before. In 2013/14 258 additional patients received a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor compared to 2010/11. This translates to an additional 130 lives saved each year.

  • Over 60% of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) patients are now able to find a well matched donor. This represents a significant improvement on the 40% figure cited by the UK Stem Cell Strategic Forum in 2010

  • UK sourced cord blood is increasingly meeting the needs of UK patients. This year around 25% of UK cord blood transplants will use donations from UK donors compared with just 10% in 2010

  • A more streamlined process for providing stem cells. Anthony Nolan, the British Bone Marrow Registry, and the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry have aligned to create the Anthony Nolan and NHS Stem Cell Registry, providing a one stop shop for transplant centres in the UK

To join the Anthony Nolan register you have to be between 16 and 30 and in good health. Find out more here.

To join NHS Blood and Transplants' British Bone Marrow Registry you need to be a blood donor aged between 18 and 49. Find out more here.

More information on donating cord blood can be found here.