Sylvester Cancer Center Team Performs 100th Stem Cell Transplant

Krishna Komanduri, M.D., the director of the Adult Stem Cell Transplant Program, and his multidisciplinary team at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center performed their 100th stem cell transplant on October 26 — a historic milestone that underscores the cancer center’s growing prominence.

Komanduri, professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology and the holder of the Kalish Family Endowed Chair in Stem Cell Transplantation, congratulated his team for performing the procedure on a woman with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow. In the autologous transplant, the team infused stem cells that had been previously harvested from the patient.

“In four years, we have more than doubled transplant volume,” said Komanduri, who was lured to the Miller School in 2008 by the opportunity to transform Sylvester into one of the nation’s leading transplant centers. “In addition, we are achieving excellent outcomes in treating some of the most challenging cancer cases.”

Sylvester Director Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., thanked Komanduri for his outstanding leadership of the stem cell transplant effort. “I would also like to thank the incredible hospital and laboratory staff who have made this possible, and the leadership of this University, medical school and cancer center for their vision, support, and hard work,” Nimer said. “Together we are achieving great things.”

“This is a wonderful milestone, for our cancer center and our patients,” added Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean, and CEO of UHealth. “I thank Krishna for his leadership, Stephen for his support and the entire transplant team for their outstanding and tireless work. We and our patients also owe a debt of gratitude to President Shalala, the Kalish family and our other benefactors. Because of you, we have made this incredible opportunity available to the people of South Florida, and beyond.”

Established in 1992 and accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT), the Adult Stem Cell Transplant Program has grown even more dramatically since moving to the Sylvester/UMHC inpatient unit in August 2011. Since July alone, the team has performed about 40 transplants.

The program treats patients from 17 to 75 years old with various types of cancer and hematological diseases, including leukemia, multiple myeloma, various lymphomas, severe aplastic anemia, myelodysplasia, myelofibrosis, among others. It operates a pre- and post-transplant outpatient clinic as well as an inpatient unit at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center/University of Miami Hospital & Clinics.

“Stem cell transplants are among the most complex medical procedures conducted at cancer centers,” said Komanduri. “They require a high level of clinical infrastructure as well as professional expertise at every stage in order to maintain a high level of clinical care.”

In addition to autologous transplants, the Sylvester team regularly performs allogeneic transplants using stem cells from matched relatives, or unrelated donors. Both types of stem cell transplants are typically performed after a cancer patient receives high doses of chemotherapy and, when needed, radiation therapy, killing the existing stem cells in the bone marrow. A successful stem cell transplant helps restore the bone marrow’s ability to grow healthy blood cells, and also helps eliminate residual cancer cells.

Looking ahead, Komanduri expects the Sylvester program to continue growing in volume and in clinical capabilities. “We have an outstanding team and infrastructure in place and are actively working to expand our capacity to serve many more patients in the coming years,” he said. “We also intend to remain on the leading edge of this rapidly evolving field of medicine.”

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