Over the next two decades BMT became standard therapy for leukemia and some other blood cancers and the leading pioneer in the field, Fred Hutchison’s Donnall Thomas became president of ASH in 1988 and won the Nobel Prize two years later.
However despite this success with this early form of stem cell transplant, ASH has been slow to fully embrace the many theoretical uses of the stem cell found in bone marrow. These cells include the blood forming hematopoietic stem cells needed by leukemia patients as well as the mesenchymal stem cells that can form bone, cartilage, blood vessels and other connective tissues and are being investigated as potential therapies for many diseases.
In order to bring the group more fully into the broader regenerative medicine space the society created a working group a few months ago and that group has just issued a white paper with suggestions for ASH as well as for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Two CIRM grantees were on the working group, Catriona Jamieson of the University of California, San Diego, and Hanna Mikkola of the University of California, Los Angeles.
The guidelines appear in the current issue of the society’s journal Blood. In many ways their recommendations mirror the tactics of CIRM. They include:
- Encourage cooperation across institutions, in this case across the various NIH institutes;
- Make sure funding works for the entire pipeline of discovery from basic research to the manufacturing processes needed to take cells into the clinic;
- Encourage grants that combine academic and industry scientists;
- Creation of database registries to track the outcomes of early clinical trials.