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For some people older than 50, transplant from young, matched donors is better than half-matched donors

Study looked at ages and types of donors to treat people with acute leukemia

Age50 - 75 years old
Number of Participants822
Research GoalImprove Survival
For some people, BMT can cure acute myeloid leukemia (AML). 

To choose a BMT donor, doctors try to match 8 genetic markers in a donor and patient. Sometimes it is hard to find a donor who matches all 8 markers. A person’s parents and children are always a half-match, also called haploidentical or haplo. Sometimes siblings are a haplo match. 

Some studies showed that BMT donors aged 18-40 are more helpful than older donors. And because family members of people older than 50 are likely to be older as well, scientists wondered if a haplo match worked as well for older people. 

In this study, more than 800 people with AML, aged 50 to 75, got BMT with one of the following: 
  • Either a fully matched, unrelated donor, age 18-40 
  • Or, a haplo donor, age 16-69 

Five years after BMT, about:
  • 40% (4 out of 10) who had younger, matched, unrelated donors were alive 
  • 30% (3 out of 10) who had haplo donors were alive 

So, for people older than 50 who have AML, doctors recommend matched, unrelated donors, aged 18-40, when possible. This study looked at data from 2008-2015 reported by about half of the hospitals that do transplant. More research is needed.