Stem Cell / Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Research Highlights

Under the Bone Marrow Transplantation Program at St. Jude, one of the largest pediatric programs in the world, more than 2,900 transplants have been performed since 1982.

  • The first bone marrow transplant performed at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital occurred in 1982.
  • The first unrelated donor transplant at St. Jude was performed in 1990.
  • Researchers at St. Jude were the first to show that allogeneic transplantation was curative for a patient who had both sickle cell anemia and acute myeloid leukemia. This procedure was the first to demonstrate that allogeneic stem cell / bone marrow transplant can cure sickle cell anemia.
  • Throughout the 1990s, researchers at St. Jude demonstrated that similar rates of hematopoietic stem cell engraftment occurred in children, teens and young adults receiving grafts from HLA-identical siblings and from HLA-matched unrelated donors. Acute graft-vs-host disease, chronic graft-vs-host disease and overall survival were the same in recipients of matched sibling grafts as of unrelated donor graft recipients. Studies of large numbers of patients have indicated that a patient’s underlying disease is the most important risk factor in determining the probability of long-term survival.
  • The Transplantation and Gene Therapy Program at St. Jude performed some of the world’s initial gene-marking trials. Studies at St. Jude demonstrated that bone marrow harvested from patients with acute myeloid leukemia or neuroblastoma in remission have occult tumor that contributed to relapse after autologous transplant.
  • Doctors at St Jude were the first to perform in 2004 a double transplant procedure combining bone marrow transplant and NK cell transplant.
  • Laboratories at St. Jude pioneer novel NK cell typing technologies to select the best NK cell donor to treat leukemia. In addition, this approach was the first to demonstrate that NK cell therapy can be used to successfully treat infant leukemia refractory to all standard treatment.
  • St. Jude was the first institution to demonstrate that haploidentical NK cell transplant may replace sibling donor bone marrow transplant in the prevention of relapse in standard-risk childhood acute myeloid leukemia.
  • The Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Program at St. Jude has been instrumental in performing some of the world’s largest prospective studies on the long-term health outcomes of transplant survivors. Studies at St. Jude have helped to guide screening and treatment strategies for many chronic health conditions.