HLA Today

Improving early referral from community hematologists/oncologists

Your referral network holds the key to getting patients to your transplant center early in their disease course. But you’ve told us many patients aren’t arriving for transplant consultation soon enough. That’s why we developed HLA Today.

HLA Today is a free program for your referral network aimed at identifying related and unrelated donors early. The program provides a simple process to HLA type patients who are newly diagnosed with a condition for which allogeneic transplant may be indicated, and their family members.

Our goal is to help improve patient outcomes by:

  • Providing hematologists/oncologists in your referral network with critical information as early as possible in a patient’s disease course
  • Starting the process for finding a related or unrelated donor as early as possible
  • Encouraging early consultation with your transplant center

Your center can use HLA Today to engage community hematologists/oncologists and improve referral timing. Contact our HLA Today team to discuss how we can partner together to deliver HLA Today to your referral network.

Through collaboration with you and your referral network, together we will clear pathways for more patients to receive cell therapy, drive early referral and improve outcomes.

Email our team

About HLA Today

How does HLA Today work? 

We provide community hematologists/oncologists with buccal swab kits. At the time of diagnosis, staff swab the patient’s cheek and send the completed kit to us for high-resolution HLA typing.

At the same time, they can request intermediate-resolution HLA typing of relatives. We send buccal swab kits directly to the patient’s family members.

After seven to 10 days, we provide the community hematologist/oncologist with a report that provides information that may encourage timely referral to a transplant center, including:

  • The patient’s high-resolution HLA typing
  • An initial search report that includes the number of adult unrelated donor or cord blood units that match the patient
  • A list of resources to help your patient in the event transplant in needed

If they request family member typing, we will send those results separately.

A physician from the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/Be The Match® is available to connect with the community hematologist/oncologist to discuss the report and answer any questions.

To ensure continuum of care for the patient, the physician can request that your transplant center also receives the patient’s HLA results, family member HLA results and preliminary search report.

The HLA Today program provides initial typing for patients and although the typing provided is high-resolution, if transplant is required, the transplant center is responsible for providing one set of high resolution typing that meets the specified criteria for patients under P00079, NMDP Policy for HLA Confirmatory Typing Requirements for Unrelated Adult Donors and HLA Typing Requirement for Patients.

Research demonstrates clinical benefit of early HLA typing

For patientes with high-risk AML, early cytogenetic testing and HLA typing, initiation of donor identification, and referral for HCT consultation led to: 65% HCT Rate in CR1, 37% Improvement in 2-year overall survival.

The HLA Today program is based on the results of the SWOG 1203 study of high-risk adult patients with AML. Researchers found that for patients with high-risk AML, early cytogenetic testing and HLA typing, initiation of donor identification, and referral for HCT consultation led to:

  • 65% transplant rate in CR1 compared to the historical rate of 40% (p <0.001)
  • 37% increase in 2-year overall survival among patients who underwent transplantation compared with patients who did not undergo transplantation (48% vs 35%, respectively p=0.031)1

How much does HLA Today cost?

HLA Today is free. There are no hidden costs for the physician’s practice, the patient or family members and no insurance paperwork to file.

Our goal is to remove barriers to patient and family member HLA typing at diagnosis so more patients are referred early for transplant consultation and transplant can occur at the optimal time.

Getting Started With HLA Today 

How can my center deliver the HLA Today program to our referral network? 

Contact our HLA Today team to learn more about the program and discuss how we can work together to reach your referral network. You can connect with our team by emailing HLAToday@nmdp.org.

“It’s been such a great resource for our patients. We primarily refer to Dana-Farber. It’s allowed them to not have to spend the time talking about what typing is, why it’s important, how complex it is. They can focus on the experience of going through transplant when they meet [the patient] for the first time. And I think that’s what patients need.”
—Courtney Bellomo, MD, Director of Stem Cell Therapy, New York Oncology Hematology

Where can hematologists/oncologists in our referral network get more information on HLA Today?

Full details for physicians in your referral network—including a kit request form—are available on BeTheMatchClinical.org. Access the webpage.

Additional Information for Transplant Centers 

Can HLA Today be used to replace HLA typing of patients at my transplant center at referral or for confirmatory typing?

No, if the patient has not been HLA typed at referral, your transplant center should use your normal processes to get the patient typed. The HLA Today program is intended for hematologists/oncologists in your referral network.

If there are significant delays to preliminary HLA typing due to insurance challenges, your transplant center can contact your NMDP case manager for assistance. We understand time is essential and want to help expedite the path to transplant.

HLA Today reports may only be used for a preliminary search. Verification of the patient’s HLA typing should be conducted using your transplant center’s validated testing laboratory.

What if we want more information beyond the preliminary search report? 

Once the patient is referred to your transplant center, you can contact your Case Manager at the NMDP/Be The Match case and request the full HLA Today report. The report provides more detailed information.

If you have any questions about HLA Today, contact our team at HLAToday@nmdp.org.

References

  1. 1. Pagel JM, Othus M, Garcia-Manero G, et al. Rapid Donor Identification Improves Survival in High-Risk First-Remission Patients With Acute Myeloid Leukemia. JCO Oncology Practice 2020; 16:6, e464-e475. Access.