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Donating for Research


At Anthony Nolan, our years of experience facilitating stem cell donations mean we have the expertise and infrastructure to support the development of innovative treatments.

These treatments could not only save more lives but help to improve patients’ quality of life as well. This means we are now contacting donors to offer them the opportunity to donate their cells to research studies in the field of cell and gene therapies.

What are ‘cell and gene therapies’?

Cell and gene therapies are novel treatment that use cells from patients or healthy donors to correct or treat an underlying disease. Research into these treatments needs donated cells from healthy donors like you, to make sure that when they reach patients they are safe and effective. Cell and gene therapies are evolving quickly and are offering promising treatments for people with cancer and many other diseases. They have the potential to offer more effective and personalised treatments for diseases which historically are difficult, or were thought to be impossible, to treat.

Who are you working with?

We will be forming collaborations with leading researchers to support their work and provide opportunities for our incredible donors to help. This will involve working with lots of different types of organisations, including hospitals, academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies. To ensure that Anthony Nolan only supports ethically sound and patient-benefiting research, an independent review board will assess each cell therapy research application before agreeing to collaborate.

The difference you could make

We only offer the option to donate either lymphocytes or peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) to research. By donating your cells, you have the opportunity to impact even more lives. One donation for a research study could unlock new discoveries and help shape the future of treatments.

Your decision

Deciding that you want to donate is a big commitment and you should consider it very carefully. Whether you choose to donate is completely up to you. Discuss the idea of donating with your family before agreeing to the next stage. You can change your mind at any time, and we want to make sure you’re well informed before you decide. If for any reason you decide not to, please let us know as soon as possible.

We’re all very lucky to have amazing medical science in the UK should we ever need it, so this was a chance for me in a small way to give back.


Being on the Research Donor Panel

  • What are the first steps?
    Donors who are willing to donate their cells to research will need to be enrolled on to the Research Donor Panel. To be enrolled you will need to be medically cleared to donate. The first step is to fill out the medical update form. Once you have completed this and it’s been cleared, your Anthony Nolan Coordinator will arrange a medical examination at a specialist hospital. The medical is a series of checks and tests to ensure you are able to donate. For further information on the medical, please speak to your Coordinator. Once you are cleared as fit to donate, you will be enrolled on to the Research Donor Panel.
  • How long does clearance last?
    You will remain on the Research Donor Panel for six months, as this is how long your medical clearance lasts. When a request for a donor comes in, your Coordinator will be in touch to see if you can make the donation date. Before going on to donate If you are available, they will walk you through the next steps in the donation process. Before you go on to donate, you will need to give consent for the study that your cells will be donated towards and for the procedure of donation. You may also need to have a small blood sample drawn to repeat some of the tests that took place in your medical examination. Your Coordinator will arrange a convenient time with you to have any repeat testing done and take your consent. If everything is okay, you will then go on to donate your cells to pioneering research!

Your questions

Can I find out the outcome of the research?


Please ask if you would like to find out more about the research study you’re involved in. We will update you once our gene therapy team have received results from the researchers.

Will I still be able to donate to a patient?


Of course! You will not be taken off the register and will still be available to be selected as a match for a patient. If you are chosen as a preferred donor for a patient during the course of this study, we can cancel your donation for research at any time as the donation to a patient takes priority. You can also donate more than once, so taking part in this study will not stop you from being chosen as a matching donor in the future. People who donate via PBSC or bone marrow can do so for a maximum of two patients or four times in total. Donating for research will count as one patient.

Will I be getting paid to donate my cells for research?


You will not receive any payment for donating your cells for research, but any expenses you incur at all for the donation - like travel, accommodation or loss of earnings - will be fully reimbursed.

Will my cells be used in animal testing?


Anthony Nolan does not conduct animal research in our laboratories. However occasionally, when pioneering research requires it and there is no alternative available, we collaborate with other organisations where animal research is used to develop and improve treatments.

Cancer survival rates have doubled over the past 40 years. This achievement would not have been possible without animal research, which has resulted in the discovery, development and testing of lifesaving treatments. As a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) we support the principle of using animals in research when it is necessary to advance understanding of health and disease and to develop new treatments.

Will the researchers get any of my personal information?


We will never share your name, address or contact details with the researchers. They may ask for your age and gender, and sometimes your tissue type, ethnicity, and/or infectious disease profile, but this will be anonymised.

Emma MacKay, donation her stem cells

Lots of people think that donating is going to be painful, so every time I’ve spoken to someone about it I’ve explained how easy it is.