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|Bone morrow transplantation
started in laboratory work with animals. None of these procedures ever starts with
humans; it always starts with ideas that you work on in the lab. It started in the
earliest days with E. Donall Thomas and George Santos in this country and van Bekkum and
George Mathe' in Europe. A great impetus came after detonation of the atomic bomb
and the realization that people could be lethally irradiated with the result being bone
marrow failure. The Navy and the Defense Department got interested in it because they were
responsible for atomic bombs and the result was research in radiation biology.
Part of the research was to take mice or rats or dogs and irradiate them to various degrees and see what happened. As you went up the scale of radiation doses, they died first of bone marrow failure. At higher doses they died from gastrointestinal, cardiac and brain deaths. The first thing that would lead to death was bone marrow failure. It was the most sensitive organ.
Between 1981 and 1990, the number of allogeneic BMTs performed annually worldwide grew six-fold, from 875 in 1981 to 5,529 in 1990. That number is expected to increase by at least 2,000 in 1992. Allogeneic BMTs are used most frequently to treat patients with leukemia, aplastic anemia and immune deficiency diseases. They different from autologous BMTs in that the bone marrow donor and patient are two different people.