NYU Langone Opens Center Dedicated to Blood and Marrow Transplantation

NYU Langone Opens Center Dedicated to Blood and Marrow Transplantation
A. Samer Al-Homsi, MD, MBA

NYU Langone Health’s Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center opened a new state-of-the-art center to treat people with blood cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. The new Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Center, located at 610 2nd Avenue in Manhattan, is part of the larger Center for Blood Cancers at Perlmutter Cancer Center, supported by an anonymous $75 million gift.

The new center, led by A. Samer Al-Homsi, MD, MBA, clinical professor in the Department of Medicine and executive director of the Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Center at Perlmutter Cancer Center, will provide patients with a healthcare team and services dedicated to blood and marrow transplantation and cell therapy.

“At the new center, blood cancer patients now have all necessary services in one location in Manhattan, performed by highly specialized providers dedicated to bone marrow transplantation and cell therapy,” Dr. Al-Homsi says.

Dr. Al-Homsi joined Perlmutter Cancer Center in June 2017 and has led a dramatic expansion of Perlmutter Cancer Center’s Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Center. The center, a member of the National Marrow Donor Program, which operates the Be the Match Registry, a worldwide database consisting of 10 million potential donors, is accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy. Since his arrival at Perlmutter Cancer Center, Dr. Al-Homsi and his team have performed close to 400 transplants, achieving excellent outcomes across the board.

With a focus on half-matched transplants (also known as haploidentical), the center has expanded the pool of potential donors for patients from certain ethnic groups. Coupling innovative approaches for preventing a complication known as graft-versus-host disease, or GvHD, with enhanced supportive care, the center is now able to offer transplantation to almost every patient in need of such treatment regardless of ethnic background or age, thus tackling an important healthcare disparity issue.

“Half-matched transplants offer hope for underrepresented patient populations, such as African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos, for whom the probability of finding a matching donor in the Be The Match Registry is as low as 35 percent, compared with an 80 percent chance for white patients,” Dr. Al-Homsi says. “From day one, we have focused on addressing this healthcare disparity to provide transplants to patients who would otherwise not have a donor.”

Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Center Focuses on Performing Many Transplants on an Outpatient Basis

A major advantage of the new center is the ability to perform blood and marrow transplants on an outpatient basis. Currently, transplant patients are admitted to the hospital for three to four weeks. Outpatient transplants will be available for certain patients, such as those receiving autologous transplants—which use a patient’s own stem cells—who meet specific criteria, including residing within a certain proximity to the center and having adequate support to travel between the center and their homes.

Recently, a patient with multiple myeloma received the first autologous transplant on an outpatient basis at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island. Perlmutter Cancer Center plans to be the leader of outpatient autologous transplants in the New York City metro area.

“Outpatient transplants bring our premier service to the New York City metro area and allow patients to stay in the comfort of their homes surrounded by their families,” Dr. Al-Homsi says.

The new center includes four examination rooms and an infusion center with eight infusion chairs. The center also houses an apheresis center for the collection of stem cells from donors that are used for transplantation. A state-of-the-art stem cell processing laboratory within the center also enables transplant specialists at Perlmutter Cancer Center to process and bank stem cells in-house for the first time.

“The opening of the Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Center is another giant step toward placing the center among the best in the United States and making these services available to patients of all ethnicities and socioeconomic groups,” says Benjamin G. Neel, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Medicine and director of Perlmutter Cancer Center.