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Transfus Apher Sci. 2011 Aug;45(1):91-7. doi: 10.1016/j.transci.2011.06.008. Epub 2011 Jul 13.

The rise of cellular therapy.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, CT, USA.


In 1938, the field of Transfusion Medicine began as the simpler entity - Blood Banking. It was a discipline that focused on collecting, processing, storing and distributing end stage blood cells, plasma and plasma fractions to patients. Over the years, the field progressed to include clinical patient services such as apheresis technology and with the development of stem cell transplantation as a standard of care, Cell Therapy. Now the discipline is also finding a niche in the area of Regenerative Medicine. The role played by Transfusion Medicine practitioners in Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine was predicated on many factors: (1) pre-existing, established protocols for therapeutic leukapheresis, (2) prior experience with mononuclear cell collection and processing, (3) long term familiarity with, and a clear understanding of, cGMP and cGLP guidelines, Federal regulations, and the voluntary standards established by various organizations, (4) close relationships with practitioners in clinical departments of medicine, pediatrics, oncology, surgery, and their subspecialty areas. While the initial Cell Therapy programs related primarily to hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, as Regenerative Medicine programs developed, transfusion specialists found it to be a related field that would also benefit from their input. Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine, now provide fertile soil for the seeds of Transfusion Medicine to grow. The once narrowly defined field of Blood Banking now encompasses involvement in major new Cellular Therapy/Regenerative Medicine research protocols related to treatment of patients with cancer as well as renal, hepatic and cardiac illnesses. This in turn provides opportunities for residents and fellows to consider robust careers in the field of Transfusion Medicine. In this manner we will move forward with one eye on the past and another on the promising future.

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