The field of hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) has made ground-breaking progress in the treatment of many malignant and nonmalignant conditions. It has also pioneered the concepts of stem cell therapy and immunotherapy as a tool against cancer. The success of transplant for hematologic malignancies derives both from the ability to treat patients with intensive chemoradiotherapy and from potent graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effects mediated by donor immunity. Additionally, HSCT has been a curative therapy for several nonmalignant hematologic disorders through the provision of donor-derived hematopoiesis and immunity. Preclinical and clinical research in the field has contributed to an advanced understanding of histocompatibility, graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), GVL effect, and immune reconstitution after transplant. Improved donor selection, tailored conditioning regimens, and better supportive care have helped reduce transplant-related morbidity and mortality and expanded access. The development of unrelated donor registries and increased utilization of cord blood and partially matched related donor transplants have ensured a donor for essentially everyone who needs a transplant. However, significant barriers still remain in the form of disease relapse, GVHD infectious complications, and regimen-related toxicities. Recent developments in the field of cellular therapy are expected to further improve the efficacy of transplant. In this review, we discuss the current science of HSCT from a historical perspective, highlighting major discoveries. We also speculate on future directions in this field. Cancer Res; 76(22); 6445–51. ©2016 AACR.
- Received May 18, 2016.
- Revision received July 26, 2016.
- Accepted July 27, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.