Dr. John A. Hansen, an immunologist whose pioneering analysis made bone marrow transplants safer and vastly expanded the pool of potential donors to sufferers with leukemia and different blood issues, died on July 31 at his residence in Mercer Island, Wash. He was 76.
The trigger was pancreatic most cancers, his spouse, Suzanne Hansen, stated.
As a scientific researcher on the Fred Hutchinson Most cancers Analysis Heart in Seattle from 1977 till he retired final 12 months, Dr. Hansen had a profound affect on the remedy of leukemia, lymphoma and blood and immune system ailments.
His staff in Seattle developed subtle strategies of figuring out which mixture of chemical compounds in a affected person’s immune system is required to maintain his physique from rejecting a marrow transplant from a donor — both a sibling or a whole stranger — whose tissue sort doesn’t exactly match.
With Drs. Jeffrey McCullough in Minnesota and Herbert Perkins in San Francisco, Dr. Hansen additionally helped set up a nationwide registry known as bethematch.org, which hyperlinks sufferers awaiting transplants with potential donors of bone marrow, blood stem cells and a new child’s umbilical twine blood.
The registry, operated by the Nationwide Marrow Donor Program and approved by the federal authorities in 1986, was conceived by a Colorado couple, Dr. Robert Graves and his spouse, Sherry.
In 1979, their 10-year-old daughter, Laura, was discovered to have leukemia. By Hutchinson she obtained what was described as the primary bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor for leukemia. The transplant was deemed successful, however her most cancers recurred, and she or he died two years later.
This system says it maintains hyperlinks to greater than 30 million potential donors worldwide.
“The contributions that John made within the area of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation had been extraordinary,” Dr. Gary Gilliland, the president and director of the Hutchinson middle, stated in a press release. “Measured within the variety of human lives saved, few physician-scientists have had the affect that he had throughout his lifetime and can proceed to have.”
Dr. Hansen deliberate to specialise in cardiac surgical procedure after medical faculty. However he found that the nascent area of coronary heart transplantation was being hampered by the tendency of sufferers’ immune methods to reject the organs.
After finding out immunology on the College of Minnesota with Dr. Robert A. Good, who had carried out the primary profitable human bone marrow transplant, Dr. Hansen determined to modify specialties. He had acknowledged, he stated, that changing the physique’s immune system held monumental potential for transplantation and remedy typically.
At Hutchinson, Dr. Hansen headed the transplant program’s scientific tissue-typing laboratory; held the titles of senior vice chairman and director of the Scientific Analysis Division; ran the Human Immunogenetics Program; and was medical director of the scientific immunogenetics laboratory at Seattle Most cancers Care Alliance.
A genetic defect or a illness like leukemia can forestall the marrow — the vascular tissue within the cavities of bones — from producing the precise mixture of blood cells. In a bone-marrow transplant, a affected person’s diseased blood and immune system are changed with wholesome ones from a donor.
To maintain the physique from rejecting the transplanted marrow, or vice versa, medical doctors search to match the marrow sort of the donor with that of the recipient as carefully as attainable. Relations are often sought, however discovering them has develop into harder as have fewer youngsters.
Rejection is decided largely by chemical compounds within the immune system known as H.L.A. (human leukocyte group A) antigens, which allow the physique to differentiate its personal cells from others’.
Dr. Hansen and his staff superior the screening methods, which had been perfected later at different establishments, to broaden the universe of acceptable donors. He was a part of the staff that pioneered bone marrow transplantation, an achievement for which its chief, Dr. E. Donnall Thomas of Hutchinson, shared a Nobel Prize in 1990.
About 1.three million transplants of blood-forming stem cells or bone marrow have been carried out worldwide since 1990.
John Andrew Hansen was born on Could 1, 1943, in Minneapolis to Alfred and Ruth (Anderson) Hansen. His father was a Lutheran minister, his mom a nurse.
Dr. Hansen majored in biology on the College of Minnesota and graduated in 1965. He earned his medical diploma from Stanford College Faculty of Drugs. He joined Hutchinson in 1977. (Its founder, Dr. William Hutchinson, named it after his brother, the foremost league pitcher and supervisor Fred Hutchinson, a Seattle hometown hero who died of most cancers in 1964 at 45.)
Dr. Hansen’s first spouse, Mary Ann (Wilson) Hansen, died of most cancers within the early 1990s. He’s survived by three youngsters from that marriage, Eric and Peter Hansen and Connie Jenson; a son, Nicholas, from his marriage to Suzanne Gobeille; and 7 grandchildren.