Blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan hosted a cross-party Parliamentary event on Wednesday 3rd July to celebrate the 205,000 people who joined the UK stem cell register last year and mark the 10th year of the UK Stem Cell Strategic Forum. The event was attended by several MPs and Minister for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention, Jackie Doyle Price.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Stem Cell Transplantation, supported by Anthony Nolan, held the event to mark the progress made in transplantation, the best chance of survival for many patients with conditions that affect their bone marrow or blood.
In 2010 the UK Stem Cell Strategic Forum recommended all stem cell registers in the UK should unite to form the aligned stem cell registry. The result was the Anthony Nolan and NHS Stem Cell Registry which, last year, recruited 205,000 new stem cell donors via its partners Anthony Nolan, the British Bone Marrow Registry (run by NHS Blood and Transplant), DKMS and the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry (run by the Welsh Blood Service).
The annual review of the Anthony Nolan and NHS Stem Cell Registry, launched at the event, shows that while the UK stem cell register now stands at 1.6 million, young men are significantly under represented.
Attendees heard that more than 2,355 searches for a lifesaving transplant were made in 2018. Eighty one per cent of people who went on to donate stem cells or bone marrow were men, and 63 per cent were men aged under 30. Men under 30 make up just 12 per cent of the UK stem cell register; highlighting the importance of raising awareness of their lifesaving potential amongst this group.
Speaking on behalf of the Anthony Nolan and NHS Stem Cell Registry, Henny Braund said: “We’re delighted to have reached such a significant milestone and pleased that our efforts to target and grow the number of young people and black, Asian and minority ethnic donors has been delivering results.
“This marks the 10th year since the Stem Cell Strategic Forum made the recommendation to create a single stem cell registry. Thanks to funding from the Department of Health and Social Care, the aligned registry has boosted the number of listed UK donors stem cell donors from 770,000 to over 1.6 million. This has led to an increase in the number of patients who receive transplants from a UK donor and thereby delivering a cost saving for the NHS.
“Its success is reflected in the fact that more UK patients than ever are receiving potentially curative stem cell transplants from an unrelated donor, rising from 817 recipients in 2010 to 1,268 in 2017.
“The aligned register has also gone some way to addressing the inequalities faced by patients from minority ethnic backgrounds, who have a 20 per cent chance of finding the best possible stem cell donor match, compared to 69 per cent for northern Europeans. Cord blood can often be used if a stem cell donor cannot be found. The aligned registry has grown the national cord blood inventory by more than three-fold, with more than 2, 216 clinical cord blood units (CBU) being added last year. This will be invaluable in helping patients from the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities find a matched donor.
“We look forward to working together as an aligned registry, continuing this lifesaving work.”