You got a call or email from someone who said they’re from Be The Match BioTherapies® asking if you’d consider being a Be The Match BioTherapies donor. You might have asked yourself, “Be The Match what?!? Is Be The Match BioTherapies real? Will I really be helping someone if I donate?”
If you haven’t gotten the call but you made it to this page, you might have the same questions.
Before we tell you about Be The Match BioTherapies, we can assure you that, yes, we really are part of Be The Match. And, yes, you will be helping someone (maybe even more than one person!) if you donate. You are a match and we urgently need you to help save more lives.
So, what is Be The Match BioTherapies and what are you being asked to do? Great questions. Let’s get started on the answers.
(If you don’t get the answer to your question here, just shoot an email to our team. One of our Donor Liaisons will get back to you within 1 business day.)
What is Be The Match BioTherapies? Are you really part of Be The Match?
We’ll tell you about Be The Match BioTherapies in just a sec. But first, a short (we promise!) history lesson. If you got a call from us, it means you joined Be The Match Registry®. That could have been just a few weeks ago or years ago.
Typically, we’ve used the registry to match a patient who needs a blood stem cell transplant with a blood stem cell donor who is not related to them. These transplants (also called blood and marrow transplant or bone marrow transplant) treat diseases like leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell disease.
But not everyone has a donor match and blood stem cell transplants aren’t perfect. Some people have complications that impact their daily lives. Others have complications that could be fatal.
Some people can’t have a transplant so they need another treatment option through a clinical trial or a cell or gene therapy. That clinical trial or therapy might be their last, or only, hope.
We needed to do more to help more people. And we knew people like you could help us do it.
That’s why Be The Match created Be The Match BioTherapies in 2016.
Be The Match developed some unique capabilities over the last 30 years that could help companies that are creating what are called next-generation cell and gene therapies. And we knew some of our members on Be The Match Registry might want to step up to help more patients, too.
Right now, we’re working with more than 50 cell and gene therapy companies who share our goal of saving lives through cellular therapy. We only partner with cell and gene therapy companies whose goals align with our own.
We look at every opportunity and therapy to make sure it is the right fit for our donors, our organization and the patients we serve.
Some of the therapies treat blood cancers and blood diseases, life-threatening infections, and solid-tumor cancers, like lung cancer and colon cancer. Others are being developed to treat diseases like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease. Some companies are even trying to create cell therapy treatments for COVID-19. Many of these therapies rely on a donor like you who matches specific genetic characteristics.
Right now, most of these cell therapies are still being studied in clinical trials. That means the therapy is being given to smaller numbers of people to make sure it works. Cell therapy clinical trials are often a patient’s last hope for another chance at life.
There are some cell therapies that have been approved by the FDA. That means they can be given to more patients who urgently need them.
Whether a treatment is in clinical trials or approved, people like you are critical to making sure patients get the treatment they need when they need it.
Have more questions about Be The Match BioTherapies? Email your question to our Donor Liaisons.
If I’m a Be The Match BioTherapies donor for a therapy in clinical trials, how am I going to help save a life? Will my donation actually go to a patient?
Be The Match BioTherapies gives people on Be The Match Registry a unique way to help impact people’s lives both today and in the long term. Here’s how.
Some companies are creating cell therapies called allogeneic therapies. That means blood cells are collected from a person who has the specific genetic characteristics that therapy needs.
If you got the call from Be The Match BioTherapies, it means you are a match for the specific therapy requirements. You might be the only person who matches those characteristics.
After donation, the cells go to a site to be created into a therapy. Then, the therapy is stored until the right patient needs it.
What’s cool about these next-generation allogeneic cell therapies is that many companies are trying to create therapies that treat more than one person from that single donation.
So by donating your blood cells one time, you could help many people.
In most cases, your donation will be used for a therapy to help patients. But each company we work with is at a different stage in their therapy development. So in some cases, your cells might be used to help develop a therapy that is still in laboratory research.
No matter what, your cells will be used to further science to help more patients in need.
That’s why Leah said, “yes,” when she got the call to be a Be The Match BioTherapies donor:
“To think my cells could be developed into a therapy that would help not just one person, but many, or go to a lab to further science … it’s pretty cool. For me, this was just as meaningful and impactful as a traditional blood stem cell donation.”
You can read Leah’s whole story on the Be The Match blog.
Clinical trials can save lives.
We know when you hear “research” and “clinical trial,” it’s easy to think your donation isn’t critical. But clinical trials are the key to finding new or improved treatments for diseases.
Emily Whitehead’s story is one example. In 2012, she was the first child in the world to receive a therapy called CAR-T cell therapy.
The therapy was in a Phase 1 clinical trial (that’s the earliest stage). There was no guarantee it would work. But, she had no other options. She was 7 years old.
The treatment worked. In 2017, the therapy she got in a clinical trial was approved by the FDA. Emily is still cancer free today.
While her treatment was an autologous cell therapy (her own blood cells were turned into the therapy that was given to her), it shows the impact clinical trials can have.
Have questions about how your donation could be used in a cell or gene therapy clinical trial? Email your question to our Donor Liaisons.
If I say yes, what’s the process like before, during and after donation? How much time will all of it take?
The process and time it will take may be different depending on the therapy. In general, there are many steps along the way.
Your donation will likely be a procedure called apheresis. It’s kind of like a really long blood or plasma donation. It is not surgery.
For any therapy, our first step is to make sure it is safe for you to donate. We’ll ask you questions about your health. You will likely need to go to a lab near you to have some blood drawn. That’s to make sure you meet all of the criteria for a therapy.
There may be more steps before your donation for some therapies.
If you are able to donate, you will go to a center for your donation. We pay all your expenses related to your donation. That includes things like exams, medical care, travel and other costs.