Department of Health and Social Care
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£4 million investment in NHS stem cell services will save lives

£4 million investment in NHS stem cell services will save lives

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 13 July 2011

A life a month could be saved thanks to a £4 million investment by the Government in NHS stem cell services, Public Health Minister Anne Milton announced today.

The project, agreed with partners NHS Blood and Transplant and charity Anthony Nolan, will see stem cell donors and potential recipients matched far more quickly than in the past. It aims to reduce average search times down to two weeks, which is estimated will save on average one life per month.

The project includes three main elements:

• Anthony Nolan and NHS Blood and Transplant will bring their bone marrow registries together by aligning their databases. Between them, they already provide access to over 700,000 adult donors in the UK. Consolidating them will speed up donor searches and therefore matches of potential donors and recipients;

• A £1.9m contract between the Department of Health and Anthony Nolan, with the charity becoming the single contact point for all NHS transplant units looking for a suitably matched adult donor or stem cell unit. The contract will help to establish a “fit panel” of 20,000 young adult donors to further reduce the time it takes to find a suitable match for transplant; and

• Both Anthony Nolan and NHS Blood and Transplant will also receive £2 million to increase collection services at its five umbilical cord blood collections sites to a 24/7 service. They will also be opening a new collection facility towards the end of the year. This will see the NHS Cord Blood Bank, already one of the largest in the world, grow from 17,000 to 35,000 processed and stored units.

Anne Milton said:

“This new collaboration between NHS Blood and Transplant and the Anthony Nolan Trust is excellent news. We know that the quicker we match potential donors to recipients, the more lives can be saved.

“This extra £4 million will help to save the lives of many more people who need bone marrow transplants. I look forward to seeing this project make a real difference to patients.”

Anthony Nolan Chief Executive Henny Braund said:

“The collaboration is great news. For a patient with a blood cancer waiting for a stem cell transplant, every minute counts and everything we can do to reduce that time is vital. Today’s announcement marks a major step forward to achieving our goal of helping every patient who needs a stem cell transplant.”
Lynda Hamlyn, Chief Executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, said:

“This investment by Government will help increase the number of stem cell samples collected and, equally important, reduce the waiting time for patients to find a suitable match.

“Both of these will help us in our mission to save more lives and improve the life chances of others.”
- Ends -

Notes to editors:

1. In January 2010, the Department of Health asked the NHS Blood and Transplant Authority (NHSBT) to lead a review on the future of unrelated donor stem cell transplantation, both bone marrow and umbilical cord blood, in the UK and report back to UK Health Ministers with options on service development. The UK Stem Cell Strategic Forum was established to lead this work.

2. On 1 December 2010, the Department published the report from the review, which can be found here: www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/pdf/uk_stem_cell_strategic_forum_report.pdf

3. The report included 20 recommendations on how stem cell transplant services could be improved and developed. Currently, the main use for these stem cell units is to treat life threatening disorders, especially cancer of the blood (e.g. Leukaemia) and anaemia (e.g. Sickle Cell). Once the full programme is completed it is estimated it will lead to an estimated 200 more lives being saved each year.

4. The Anthony Nolan bone marrow charity runs the oldest bone marrow donor registry in the world and the largest in the UK. Two other bone marrow registries are also in operation, the British Bone Marrow Registry and the Welsh Bone Marrow Registry. The current situation has meant that none of the registries are as effective as they could be. A strategic, joint approach would lead to an alignment of current databases, donor search services and donor or stem cell unit delivery which will drastically reduce turnaround times.

5. The Anthony Nolan brand is known worldwide. They have extensive knowledge, skills and expertise that is essential to the provision of current NHS services and which we wish to harness to further benefit NHS patients. The contract will see us work much closer with the charity, which will become the single contact point for all UK NHS transplant units looking for a suitably matched stem cell unit, either in the UK or abroad.

6. Over the length of the contract (one year) at least 2,000 extra cord blood units will aim to be provided. In detail, the work will include:
• Cord Blood;
• Inventory build;
• Clinical education programme;
• Pre-consent website;
• Bone Marrow.

7. The work will also include:
• Tendering for the provision of high resolution typing for 20,000 donors over 3-5 months;
• Retrieval of DNA from NHSBT archives of 10,000 suitable young male adult donors in the right geographic areas;
• Recruitment of 10,000 young male adult donors to provide the right geographic spread by Anthony Nolan in conjunction with the NHSBT donors;
• Ensuring the supplier types the 20,000 samples to the agreed timescales;
• Development of the genotype prediction software;
• Setting up the genotype prediction software with the 20,000 high resolution samples;
• Using the genotype prediction software in the UK Registry.

8. For more information, please contact the DH Newsdesk on 020 7210 5221. For more information about Anthony Nolan please contact Tracey Sands or Victoria Moffett on 020 7424 6619 or 020 7284 8233.

Contacts:

Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221
NDS.DH@coi.gsi.gov.uk

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