The National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/Be The Match® today announced the launch of a new cryopreservation service, Be The Match BioBank, aimed at providing hematopoietic cell transplant patients, allogeneic blood stem cell donors and physicians a predictable path to transplant. Through Be The Match BioBank, transplant centers can access cryopreservation and storage services for patient-directed donor products at no cost to the patient, donor or transplant center.
Be The Match BioBank reduces the risk that obstacles such as donor availability, patient insurance issues or changes in a patient’s treatment status will put a patient’s transplant in jeopardy. Through Be The Match BioBank, donors can donate bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells for an intended patient on a timeline that is convenient for the donor. The cells are then cryopreserved and stored for the transplant center at no cost to the center. The cells are shipped to the transplant center when the patient is ready for transplant.
Transplant centers have no financial risk to using Be The Match BioBank. Transplant centers are not charged for donor workup and procurement until after the cryopreserved product has shipped from Be The Match BioBank to the center.
“Our transplant center partners need certainty that donor cell collection and delivery will occur in the timeframe they need. By offering flexibility in the donation date to donors, we can increase donor availability and provide transplant centers with the donor they requested more often. In addition, the donation will not be impacted if a patient’s transplant is delayed. With the cells already collected and stored, patients can receive a transplant at the optimal time for them,” explained Steven Devine, MD, Chief Medical Officer, NMDP/Be The Match, and Associate Scientific Director, CIBMTR® (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research®).
Be The Match BioBank can be used by any transplant center in the NMDP/Be The Match Network. Donors are informed that the transplant center is requesting cryopreservation. They can consent to having their cells made available to other searching patients in the unlikely event the intended patient is unable to proceed to transplant.
The service is made possible through partnerships with two experienced cell therapy programs: Marcus Center for Cellular Cures (MC3)/Carolinas Cord Blood Bank at Duke University and the Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics program, M Health Fairview at the University of Minnesota.
COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for Be The Match BioBank
Logistical and transport challenges impacting fresh product delivery throughout the COVID-19 pandemic made the need for a cryopreservation service for patient-directed products evident. Typically, allogeneic donor products are collected from a donor and transported fresh from the apheresis or marrow collection center to the transplant center where the product is immediately infused. By the time the product is collected, patients have started a conditioning regimen that depletes their immune system, making them vulnerable to life-threatening infections.
Due to the pandemic, from March through early August, the NMDP/Be The Match and many other organizations put a cryopreservation requirement in place for allogeneic donor products (with limited exceptions).
“With the amount of flight cancellations, border crossing restrictions and concerns about donor exposure to COVID-19, we couldn’t take the risk that a patient with a depleted immune system wouldn’t receive their product on time. While the intent of cryopreservation was to decrease risk, we found that by cryopreserving products we could also better meet a transplant center’s treatment timeline. We realized this service would be beneficial for our transplant center partners even when we are not experiencing a pandemic,” said Julie Smolich, MBA, Senior Vice President of Provider Services, NMDP/Be The Match.
“We were grateful to have the service available for one of our patients whose transplant needed to be delayed. The donor we selected had a healthcare job that put the donor at a high risk for COVID-19 exposure, which could have delayed our patient’s transplant even further. By using Be The Match BioBank, the donor’s collection happened early, and the cryopreserved cells were shipped to our transplant center when our patient was ready for transplant after they had experienced an unexpected delay,” said Jeremy Pantin, MD, Transplant Attending Physician, Sarah Cannon Center for Blood Cancer at Tristar Centennial.
The NMDP/Be The Match piloted Be The Match BioBank cryopreservation service from March through September and extended the service to all transplant centers starting Oct. 1.
To learn more about Be The Match BioBank, visit Network.BeTheMatchClinical.org/BioBank.
About the National Marrow Donor Program/Be The Match
The National Marrow Donor Program/Be The Match is the global leader in providing a cure to patients with life-threatening blood and marrow cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, as well as other diseases. The organization manages the world’s largest registry of potential blood stem cell donors and cord blood units. The NMDP/Be The Match partners with a global network to connect patients to their donor match for a transplant, and provides education and support for patients. Through Be The Match BioTherapies®, the NMDP/Be The Match partners with cell and gene therapy companies to support the development and delivery of new therapies. The organization conducts research through its research program, CIBMTR® (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research®), in collaboration with Medical College of Wisconsin.