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Cultural, social factors identified as barriers to minority participation in stem cell donation
Date:12/20/2012

New research examining the role of race and ethnicity in an individual's decision to become a donor for hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) identifies several factors associated with varied participation rates in national donor registries across racial/ethnic groups. Results of this first-of-its-kind study are published online today in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

Hematopoietic cell transplants serve as valuable treatments for a range of blood disorders, as they generate new, healthy blood cells to replace diseased cells. While cells from related donors offer the highest success rates, similar successes can be achieved using cells from unrelated donors that are available through large registries, such as the the Be The Match Registry (operated by the National Marrow Donor Program [NMDP] and Be The Match), to patients who cannot identify a related donor. Overall participation in HCT donor registries has grown in the last decade, allowing more patients to find unrelated matched donors.

However, the NMDP and Be The Match still face challenges in finding donors for minority patients in need of stem cell transplants. One barrier to matching potential HCT donors with those in need of a potentially life-saving transplant is the fact that patients of non-Caucasian descent often have less common types of human leukocyte antigens (HLAs, protein markers found on immune system genes that determine the compatibility of the donated cells).

According to NMDP and Be The Match data, another important barrier to minority donation for HCT is that when potential minority donors are notified that they are a match for a patient, they are more likely to opt out of registry participa
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Contact: Claire Gwayi-Chore
cgwayi-chore@hematology.org
202-552-4914
American Society of Hematology
Source:Eurekalert

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