Stem Cell Data Base Requires Expansion
Prince George, B.C. – The UBC Stem Cell Club at UNBC organized a stem cell swab drive at Pine Centre Mall on Sunday in an effort to boost to register new donors and boost the stem cell data bank in Canada.
Club member Kevin Adam noted that “what we’re here to do (from 11 am to 5 pm) is continue on the Canadian Blood Services presence in Prince George by engaging the community in still getting involved after we’ve had our collections facility close down. So, this is something that the northern community can still be a part of and can still contribute to saving lives around the world with the products that we collect through recruiting people through these programs.”
Adam says the stem cell programs are really starting to be pushed nationally and make it a centre piece of Canadian Blood Services. “What we’re trying to do is make a more diverse stem cell registry where people who have signed up to be potential donors represent the communities that exist within Canada. Because people that need these products are more likely to find a match, and someone that can potentially donate to them, within their own ethnic group.”
He says an unfortunate right now “is that about 70% of individuals on this program and on the Canadian registry are Caucasian, and that leaves us under-represented in a lot of other ethnic groups. So what we’re trying to do is continue to expand our program so that we have a more representative registry for everyone else. And then they have a higher likelihood of getting these life-saving products.”
Adam says “there are some ethnicities that have a lower chance than the rest of the population, and a big part of our drives is to encourage aboriginals onto our program because we have a very unique ancestry here. And so it’s harder to find those individuals stem cells than the rest of the population.”
Canadian Blood Services specifically seeks out people aged 17 to 35 years to register as stem cell donors. Adam says “what we find through stem cell registries, and this is world-wide, is that the ideal donor candidate is males between 17 and 35, and this is for a number of reasons. It’s mainly to do with patient outcomes because, for whatever reason, they have better outcomes when it comes to this kind of procedure.” He says they have less likelihood of rejection of the donated tissue than females but the reason for that is not known.
Adam says “females actually make up a large part of our registry but the evidence suggests that their stem cells donations are typically less well received than a male donation. They have a higher likelihood of having poorer patient outcomes and having a rejection of that tissue than a male donation. And that’s been shown world-wide clinically, that men have a better prognosis and typically a better product. Exactly why that is I can’t tell you.”
Adam says there is no gender barrier in stem cell donations and recipients, in other words stem cells don’t have to go male-to-male or female-to-female. He says “again, if we have a choice between a man and a woman as a potential donor it’s up to the transplant doctor but typically the evidence shows that the male is going to be a better donor. But if that option is not available we’re always welcome to have anyone who is a potential match for that individual go ahead and go through that as long as it’s safe for both individuals. So we’re absolutely open to everyone.”
This is the fifth stem cell registration drive held in Prince George during the current school year. While the majority have taken place on the UNBC campus there has been an effort to expand out into the community to reach a greater cross-section of people and ethnicities.