Gloved hands holding a pipette

The impact of our research

We know that research doesn’t produce results overnight. But we also know investing in this work will have the biggest impact on transplant success and patient wellbeing in the future.

Since our research institute opened in 1996, We have made many scientific discoveries and established key initiatives that have transformed how transplants are performed world-wide. We are getting closer to the day when everybody makes a full and fast recovery from their stem cell transplant.

Did you know?

We wrote or contributed to over 70 scientific journal articles last year.

Our key research highlights:

  • Our research confirmed that donors under 30 provide a better chance of survival for patients. This informed our pioneering change in our recruitment policy when we became the first register in the world to recruit 16-year-olds.
  • We championed the use of stem cells taken from umbilical cords in transplants. These cells have a greater degree of flexibility because they can tolerate a higher degree of genetic mismatching. 
  • As sequencing technology becomes more sensitive and accurate, we can now extract enough DNA from a simple cheek swab to successfully tissue type our donors. This method is cheaper and more efficient than taking a blood or saliva sample – meaning resources can be used to add more potential donors to our register.
  • Determining the impact of CMV (cytomegalovirus) status of our donors on transplant success rates. CMV is a common virus that affects 50-80% of the population. It’s dormant in most healthy people but can be reactivated in patients with a weakened immune system. Matching the CMV status of patients and donors can offset the effects of a HLA mismatch and improve overall survival rates.

Did you know?

14 research projects are currently running at the Anthony Nolan Research institute, with even more being planned for the future.

Recent research milestones:

  • We have implemented Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) into our laboratories. This allows us to analyse entire HLA genes in more detail than ever before so we can be more confident of finding the best possible match for every patient.
  • Our Cell and Gene Therapy Services were launched in 2019 to provide the highest quality blood cells to our academic and industry research partners to develop novel cell-based therapies. These treatments have the potential to dramatically improve the lives of patients with blood cancer and other conditions.
  • We helped to establish the IMPACT clinical trials network which now has six active trials currently testing new therapies and treatment regimes. This unique partnership allowed the rapid set up of a trial that focused on how transplant patients react to COVID-19 in just eight weeks.
  • Our Patient/Donor Project has shown the importance of sequencing our donors to the highest possible resolution. By studying the transplant outcome of over 1,500 DNA sample pairs, we also highlighted the significance of matching for a 6th HLA gene – DPB1 and that for this gene, some mismatches are more important than others.

Did you know?

IMPACT has recruited over 200 transplant patients to its 7 clinical trials.