Achievement will vastly improve care for many people who are battling blood cancers.

March 27, 2024 | Loma Linda, California, United States | Ansel Oliver, Loma Linda University Health

Loma Linda University Cancer Center’s Division of Transplant and Cellular Therapy has received accreditation from the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT), making it the first and only facility in the Inland Empire region in California, United States, to earn the international gold standard for transplant and cell therapy for both adults and children for autologous, allogeneic, and immune effector cells.

Cancer Center leaders said the accreditation will vastly improve care for many people in the region who are battling blood cancers. Until now, those patients have needed to travel to the Los Angeles area for these procedures and follow-up appointments several times a week for treatment of various diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, as well as non-malignant conditions such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia.

“This is a truly historic achievement for Loma Linda University Health,” Mark Reeves, director of the Loma Linda University Cancer Center, said. “This ensures that our patients continue to receive absolutely cutting-edge and transformative treatments for cancer.”

The division, which was established in 2022, offers both adult and pediatric therapies for blood cancers and non-malignant blood disorders, including bone marrow transplants and leading-edge cell and gene therapies.

“This accreditation has long been needed in the Inland Empire because most of our patients with blood cancers and non-malignant diseases are minority or underserved, and they can all now receive the best available care much closer to their home,” said Hisham Abdel-Azim, division head of Transplant and Cell Therapy/Hematological malignancies at Loma Linda University Cancer Center. “This accreditation gives confidence to the community and to payors that the patient is receiving the best available treatment.”

Abdel-Azim said the division uses a multidisciplinary team approach with adult and pediatric disease-specific experts to provide cutting-edge therapy.

The division offers targeted cell therapy (such as CAR-T cell therapy), which modifies some of a patient’s own T cells so they can be injected and attack cancer cells, sparing nearby healthy tissue. Bone marrow transplants treat patients by replacing bone marrow stem cells that have developed leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma with healthy cells from a donor, as well as gene therapy using a patient’s own gene-corrected blood and marrow cells for non-malignant conditions (such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia). Graft manipulation/engineering allows doctors to optimize the blood and marrow stem cell graft to overcome tissue matching and a donor’s availability barriers (such as from a half-matched related donor) while minimizing the procedure’s side effects.

The division is also building a transplant and cell therapy and GMP lab as the first of its kind in the Inland Empire to further support delivery of such therapy.

The original version of this story was posted on the Loma Linda University Health news site.

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