Bone Marrow Transplantation

Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) remains the only curative therapy for many high risk and relapsed leukaemias and other childhood cancers. In addition, transplant is used to cure inherited diseases of the blood and immune system including Thalasemmia, inborn errors of metabolism, bone marrow failure syndromes and severe immune deficiency disorders. In all, there are over 70 different diseases that can be cured by transplant.  More recently, umbilical cord blood has become an increasingly used source of stem cells and has many advantages over bone marrow. Doctors at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick (SCH) have been pioneers in the field of cord blood transplants having performed the first transplant in Australia of this type and more than any other Australian centre.

The transplant program, lead by Dr Tracey O’Brien has a broad and active research portfolio. Central to the mission is to improve survival and reduce short and long term side effects of transplantation.

Areas of research include;

Clinical research – The Kids Cancer Centre (KCC) partners with the large co-operative trial and research groups including Children’s Oncology Group (COG), Paediatric Blood and Marrow Trials Group (PBMTC), European Bone Marrow Transplant Group (EBMTG) and the Centre for International Bone Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR).  Dr O’Brien is an advisory committee member of the CIBMTR and an executive member of the NSW BMT group.

Laboratory and Translational Research - Aimed at targeted development of novel new molecules and inhibitors that can aid in improving engraftment, preventing/treating graft versus host disease and preventing post-transplant relapse. The laboratory has been successful in establishing animal models of transplant engraftment and published a significant number of key publications in high level internationally respected journals.

Bioethics - In addition to a medical degree, Dr O’Brien has a masters in law and an interest in bioethics. Research into consent of minors, parental and patient decision making and equity and access to experimental therapeutics are key areas of ongoing enquiry.