Stem cell transplants have been making headlines and changing lives for 65 years

The science of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation has greatly improved over the last half century, but there’s still much more work to be done.

In 1956, a New York doctor transplanted bone marrow from one twin to another; who was suffering from leukaemia. It was the first ever successful bone marrow transplant. Now – over 65 years later – more than 100,000 hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell transplantation (HSCT) procedures are expected to be performed worldwide this year alone.

Thanks to a steady stream of innovations in HSCT, the rate and quality of these life-saving transplants have increased dramatically in the last few decades, offering improved prognoses to patients with a wide range of haematologic diseases and cancer. And many more patients who were once passed over for HSCT because of their advanced age are now being offered transplants. Furthermore, the number of autologous stem cell transplants performed in patients over age 60 quintupled between 2000 and 2018.

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