We aim to provide our cryopreserved products to transplant centers worldwide to help patients even more quickly and efficiently.
For many patients, the search for a donor is the beginning of a race against time. The faster a suitable donor is found and the faster the hematopoietic stem cells reach the patient, the better the chances of survival. This urgent need was the initial motivation for extending our activities as a cord blood bank to process, store and deliver cryopreserved peripheral blood stem cell products from unrelated donors.
In our experience, many donors mobilize considerably more stem cells than a single patient actually needs (collected/requested CD34 cell count). The cells for the Stem Cell Bank are collected by apheresis in the course of the donation from a voluntary adult donor who is already donating for a specific patient (directed donation) – and who can save two lives with one donation.
The donor’s availability and the duration from request to transplantation are critical aspects of unrelated hematopoietic stem cell transplantations. Our DKMS Stem Cell Bank provides cryopreserved stem cells products effectively and efficiently, thereby counteracting those critical aspects.
For your patient, this means a significantly shorter time to transplantation, which can improve the chances of success as the patient’s health can deteriorate while waiting for the transplant – making transplantation impossible in some cases. As the donation will already have taken place, our DKMS Stem Cell Bank’s cryopreserved product is available within just one week. There is no need to activate the donor; the process of the preliminary examination and donor clearance will also already have taken place.
Our team at the DKMS Stem Cell Bank laboratory requires a maximum of three days between the initial request and transportation to the clinic. The transportation can take up to one or two days.
In cases where a cryopreserved product is requested and the donation took place more than six months ago, the donor will be contacted in order to check health-related factors. If the product is no longer suitable due to donor-related reasons, e.g., some types of cancer, which were not known at the time of donation, the product will not be listed.
For donations to our DKMS Stem Cell Bank, we only ask donors who have already been requested for a peripheral stem cell collection for a specific patient. For the donor, the collection of additional cells, apart from there being a longer apheresis period, does not result in any substantial additional effort, nor any additional health risk. The approved duration of the apheresis will not be exceeded. A standard stem cell donation will be carried out in which the permissible blood volume will be processed; it is not necessary to carry out additional administration of G-CSF, nor is an extra day of collection required. The cells collected in this way will be donated for the patient in need of the transplant and the additional cells will be stored in the DKMS Stem Cell Bank.
Where a patient needs a second stem cell donation and stem cells have been cryopreserved, they are available without the donor having to donate a second time. As long as the product is still available, it can be requested for the patient for second transplantation. However, it will not be possible to reserve a cryopreserved product.
We fully inform our donors who are eligible to donate a cryopreserved product to the DKMS Stem Cell Bank in advance and ask for additional informed consent.
Donors who have already been selected to donate for a specific patient will be identified according to a certain algorithm, including HLA genotype, age and weight. Initially, DKMS will consider all donors with particularly frequent HLA genotypes who are requested for workup. In the long term, the HLA profiles of the DKMS Stem Cell Bank’s products will become more diverse so that as many patients as possible can benefit.
Donor selection criteria:
On top of that, the DKMS Stem Cell Bank operates as a cord blood bank. Cord blood is available as an alternative source for the transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells and shows increasing overall survival rates over the last ten years, comparable to haploidentical related donation and at a better rate than unrelated donors with HLA mismatch. The stem cells from cord blood are collected in a simple and safe way for the mother and the child. In particular, patients with rare HLA characteristics and members of ethnic minorities benefit from the fact that the transplantation of stem cells from cord blood requires fewer matching HLA characteristics. Therefore, cord blood units represent a useful supplement to the treatment of people with diseases of the hematopoietic system.
We are currently cooperating with 23 clinics to collect the stem cells from cord blood and have stored more than 9,500 cord blood units in our DKMS Stem Cell Bank. So far, 108 patients from 22 countries have received a second chance at life with cord blood units from our DKMS Stem Cell Bank.
How to request cord blood units: As of April 21, 2021, the DKMS Registry will be responsible for the listing of cord blood units from the DKMS Stem Cell Bank, which will only be available via WMDA Search & Match Service.
The DKMS Stem Cell Bank (formerly DKMS Cord Blood Bank) was initially founded in 1997 as a third-party funded project in cooperation with the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus in Dresden, Germany. Since 2008, the non-profit organization has been an independent member of the DKMS family.
Since December 1, 2008 the DKMS Stem Cell Bank has held a manufacturing authorization from the Competent Authority, Landesdirektion Sachsen. For the pharmaceutical drug “Stem cells from cord blood (DKMS) -2 and -1” the DKMS Stem Cell Bank was granted approval according to § 25 para. 1 AMG by the Federal Authority, Paul-Ehrlich-Institute (issued on December 24, 2008). The DKMS Stem Cell Bank has been accredited according to the standards of NetCord-FACT since December 15, 2011. The accreditation includes the collection, processing, storage and distribution of cord blood from related and unrelated donors. In addition, DKMS Stem Cell Bank is accredited according to ZKRD and WMDA standards. Based on this longstanding experience as a cord blood bank, in 2020 we expanded our activities to process, store and deliver cryopreserved peripheral stem cell products from unrelated donors
Our highly qualified team consists of physicians, biologists, pharmacists, quality unit supervisors, project managers and laboratory staff and has many years of experience in the collection, processing, quality control, storage, release and shipping of stem cells from cord blood. We are aware of the importance of our activities in terms of GMP, AMG, AMWHV and the NetCord-FACT standards in order to be able to guarantee the highest possible safety and efficacy for patients, products and personnel.