Since the first successful bone marrow transplant in 1959, thousands of patients with lethal diseases such as severe leukemia, aplastic anemia, and inherited immune deficiencies have been successfully treated with hematopoietic stem cells (HSC). But for all the success stories, transplant physicians seeking to make HSC safer and more widely available continue to grapple with the problems of a limited donor pool, graft rejection, and graft-vs.-host disease (GVHD). Bone marrow for many years was virtually the only source of HSC-self-renewing, unspecialized cells that give rise to all of the hematologic and immunologic cells-but transplant physicians increasingly are making use of stem cells collected from peripheral blood or the umbilical cord.
TOP OF THE LIST: Wisconsin's Mary Horowitz notes that breast cancer is the No. 1 indication for a hematopoietic stem cell transplant.