The Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Transplant Program at Cedars-Sinai Cancer Center was recently recognized by two quality hallmarks: Official CAR accreditation T cell treatment, and for the third year in a row it ranks among the top adult bone marrow transplant programs in the United States
Both accomplishments are cause for celebration, as they reflect the quality of care our center provides to patients – and ultimately, exceptional patient outcomes and survival. Our team does its best to work every day, because we have the privilege of serving patients who trust us with their lives.”
Ronald Packett, MD, clinical director of the Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Program and director of Malignant Myeloid Oncology
The Cell Therapy Accreditation Foundation, an international accreditation body, recently awarded the program its first accreditation for CAR T-cell therapy, in which white blood cells called T lymphocytes are collected from a patient’s blood, genetically modified to kill cancer cells, and then reinjected into the patient.
CAR T-cell therapy is given to patients with refractory lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma. Cedars-Sinai only recently began offering this complex treatment, Paquette said, under the direction of Justin Darrah, MD, director of the CAR T-Cell Program and co-director of the Lymphoma Program at Cedars-Sinai.
“It took more than two years to establish our procedures and fully train us before we could treat our first patient,” Paquette said. “We had to make sure that our team was aware of the treatment, the complications that could occur, and that we had the procedures in place to ensure we could provide the best care to our patients.”
The demand for treatment is increasing.
“It’s an area that’s developing very quickly,” Paquette said. “The number of patients we treat is increasing exponentially, because there are an increasing number of situations in which CAR-T cell therapy is better than the previous standard of care.”
The foundation also reaccredited Cedars-Sinai to perform stem cell transplants for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, as well as noncancerous bone marrow disorders.
The Cedars-Sinai Program was recently endorsed by the International Bone Marrow Transplant Research Center for its success in achieving higher-than-expected one-year survival rates for patients.
Injections of stem cells collected from blood can be used to treat a variety of blood cancers after radiation and chemotherapy have been given. Of the more than 150 centers in the United States that perform these transplants on adults, Cedars-Sinai is one of only nine that have surpassed 1-year survival rates.
“The one-year survival is much better than would be expected based on the characteristics of the patients we transplant,” Paquette said. “And for the last three years, we’ve been in that group of positions that exceed expectations.”
Paquette credits a highly trained clinical team and drive to provide patients with cutting edge transplantation methods while achieving such good results. In addition to physicians, members include transplant coordinators, who ensure patients complete pre-transplant testing; radiation oncologists, who perform whole-body irradiation to prepare patients for new cells; and nurses, nurse practitioners, fellows, residents, interns, and attending physicians who care for patients in the hospital.
Before patients are discharged from the hospital, the case manager ensures they have everything they need — including medications and equipment — to recover at home. And a social worker checks in to make sure there is a friend or family member willing and able to help with this recovery.
After discharge from the hospital, patients undergo follow-up visits with nurse practitioners and nurse practitioners who monitor their condition and coordinate any required follow-up tests or procedures.
“This program is made up of a team of highly skilled and dedicated researchers and clinicians, under leadership that puts patient care front and center,” said Dan Theodorescu, MD, Cedars-Sinai Cancer Director and PHASE ONE Distinguished Chair. “Its increasing accreditation and continued ranking among the best programs in the country reflects the dedication of the entire Cedars-Sinai Cancer Foundation to providing high-quality care and making the latest treatments available to our patients.”