Closer to a Cure
CHORI Researchers Identify Subdivisions in the U.S. Bone Marrow Donor Pool
Currently, over 15 thousand patients a year are looking for their perfect donor match to cure their life-threatening diseases. Many of them won't find that match.
"There are basically five genes that are involved in determining a patient's compatibility with that of a potential transplant donor," Dr. Mack says. "Everyone has two copies of these five genes and ideally you want your donor and your patient to have a 10 out of 10 match."
Using the National Bone Marrow Donor Program registry a national archive of tissue samples from individuals who have volunteered to be bone marrow donors to find a donor who is a perfect match for an individual patient can be a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack. While doctors generally have a great deal of information about the genes of the patient, they often only have a minimal amount of information on the donors.
"The information in the registry is what we generally call low resolution in terms of how well a particular donor will match a particular patient because you don't want to go through the cost of high resolution analysis for a donor who might never be needed," explains Dr. Mack.As a result, researchers are looking for ways to narrow down the field to a more likely and smaller pool of potential donors from which to select samples for additional, high resolution testing in order to bring patients in need that much closer to finding a match, and ultimately a cure.
The data also suggest that if ethnicity is going to be included as part of the donor information, those collecting the samples from the donors may need to be much more specific about how they ask about ethnicity in the donor pool, including asking about the donor's parents' and grandparents' background.
"Being able to understand how demographics and genetics interact is more critical than ever as donor registries get larger and more international connections are made between registries," Dr. Mack says.
Dr. Mack and his colleagues are helping increase those chances with their latest study, bringing doctors that much closer to finding a patient's perfect match faster and more efficiently than ever before.Back
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 8:19 AM