Patients Very Likely to Find a Suitable Bone Marrow Donor on the National Marrow Donor Registry

Department of the Navy's picture
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Story Number: NNS140725-13Release Date: 7/25/2014 12:52:00 PM

By Doris Ryan, Naval Medical Research Center Public Affairs

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NNS) -- Seriously ill patients without a suitably matched family member should find an available bone marrow donor on the registry of the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) according to a study published July 24, in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Bone marrow transplants are needed for patients with blood and marrow cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, as well as other diseases.

The study researchers created population based genetic models for 21 U.S. racial and ethnic groups to reflect the large diversity of the U.S. population represented in the NMDP. Donors are matched to patients based on human leukocyte antigen (HLA) markers, which are inherited. The cells needed for the transplants come from adult donors or banked umbilical cord-blood units. Depending on the patient's race or ethnic background, the study found that a high percentage of patients could have a suitably matched and available donor on the registry. The study can be found at

Since 1991, the Naval Medical Research Center's (NMRC) Bone Marrow Research Directorate has played a critical role in supporting DoD bone marrow drives and identifying potential bone marrow donors to add to the national registry.

"There are more than 700,000 individuals who have registered with the DoD bone marrow program. Any one of them could be genetically matched with a patient in need of a hematopoietic (blood forming cells) transplant," said Dr. Robert Hartzman, one of the author's on the paper and head of the NMRC Bone Marrow Research Directorate and manager for the C.W. Bill Young/DoD Marrow Donor Recruitment and Research Program. "The potential DoD donors who volunteer are added to the unified national donor file of NMDP and are extremely important as they are healthy and young and willing to give of themselves to reach out to someone they will probably never meet to give a stranger their best opportunity for full life."

Over the last twenty years, more than 5,000 individuals in the DoD have donated marrow for a transplant. Marrow donor drives are offered at every DoD facility across the world that would like to participate, added Hartzman.

NMRC's BMD provides military contingency support for casualties with marrow toxic injury due to radiation or chemical warfare agents. The directorate performs laboratory research that supports technology innovations to make highly reliable and cost-effective DNA-based typing for marrow transplants.

The study was funded by the Office of Naval Research and the Department of Health and Human Services.

For more news from Naval Medical Research Center, visit

Copy this html code to your website/blog to embed this press release.


Post new comment

10 + 2 =

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.