Why Choose Us for Stem Cell Transplantation?
The Latest Approaches to Stem Cell Transplant
At the University of Chicago, our expert physicians are also active researchers. They are constantly exploring new approaches to stem cell transplant that will increase the success of this treatment and make it available to more patients who need it.
Our stem cell transplant program is often among the first in the country to test new experimental approaches via clinical trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and other organizations. As a result, our patients often have access to promising approaches not commonly available elsewhere. Examples include:
- Modified conditioning stem cell transplants, which involve giving patients novel combinations of chemotherapy before an allogeneic transplant (donor stem cell transplant). The goal of these studies is to minimize side effects from chemotherapy and from graft versus host disease (GVHD), without sacrificing the efficacy of the transplant.
- A new anti-tumor vaccine after allogeneic transplant that will, hopefully, reduce the re-occurrence of cancer. We are the only stem cell transplant program in the United States testing this new vaccine, which is in the early stages of development.
- Multiple cord blood transplants for adult patients. Many adults, especially those belonging to ethnic minorities, do not have unrelated donors but may benefit from cord blood transplantation. We are currently testing cord blood transplant using multiple donor cords, in hopes of reducing time to engraftment and risks of these transplants.
- Graft versus host disease (GVHD) is a serious complication of transplant that can be life-threatening, especially in older patients. The University of Chicago Medicine is one of a few hospitals in the United States using GVHD prophylaxis with a monoclonal antibody. As a result, few of our older patients have developed serious GVHD.
Individualized, Expert Care
Our physicians and nurses are very experienced in stem cell treatment. Together, over the last 15 years, they have performed almost 1,200 stem cell transplants in patients of all ages and with various types of cancers and diseases. Our physicians have a very intimate knowledge of the stem cell process and can quickly recognize and address any problems or side effects that may occur.
We pride ourselves in the personalized care we provide. Each patient is assigned to a primary transplant physician--one who specializes in his or her type of cancer or blood disease. A nurse practitioner is also assigned to each patient, providing guidance and education throughout the entire transplant process. Patients meet one-on-one with a social worker, financial advisor, and other support staff as needed.
We also encourage our patients to participate in support groups available at the medical center for patients with cancer and other serious diseases. One-on-one counseling with a psychologist or psychiatrist can also be arranged for patients who need help coping with their diagnosis or treatment.
State-of-the-Art Stem Cell Laboratory
Accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT), our stem cell laboratory is specially equipped to handle all of the blood and stem cell preparation needed for transplant, including apheresis and cryopreservation. The stem cells prepared in this laboratory are stored until the patient is ready for transplant.
The leading-edge technologies available in our laboratory allow us to perform complex procedures that help improve the outcomes of stem cell transplants. These procedures include the purging of malignant cells and graft engineering to minimize graft-versus-host disease when donor cells are used for transplantation.
Connection to Premier Cancer Program
Our stem cell transplant program is very closely linked to our cancer program, which is one of the most respected in the nation. Essentially, this means our patients have access to the knowledge of more than 150 cancer specialists at the University of Chicago medical center, including respected experts in lymphoma and leukemia.
Each stem cell transplant patient's case is discussed in regular meetings by a multidisciplinary team of cancer experts, which includes some of the nation's leading medical oncologists, radiation therapists, and other cancer specialists.
Outcomes that Exceed National Norms
Our program's clinical outcomes compare with national norms, though we take on many high-risk and older patients. Our patients have benefited from dozens of research advances made by the University of Chicago Medicine, which have helped reduce cancer recurrence, infections and other problems.