Dr. Rainer Storb has received a $12.9 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to refine stem-cell-transplant treatments for people with noncancerous conditions.

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A founding scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has received a $12.9 million grant to refine stem-cell transplant treatments for people with congenital disorders including so-called “bubble-boy disease” and sickle-cell anemia.

Dr. Rainer Storb, 80, head of the transplantation biology program at Fred Hutch, was awarded the funds from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Storb and his colleagues will launch a five-year research program aimed at making stem-cell transplantation safer and more widely available, Fred Hutch officials said in a statement.

Storb will lead the clinical research portion of the program in conjunction with colleagues Dr. Ann Woolfrey and Dr. Lauri Burroughs. They’ll test less-toxic methods to prevent dangerous side effects in patients receiving stem cells for inborn diseases. Preclinical research will be led by Fred Hutch scientists Dr. Brenda Sandmaier and Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem.

The research will test new methods of improving treatment, including use of so-called monoclonal antibodies to shut down harmful immune responses when transplants are only partially matched. Another set of studies will concentrate on inserting a genetic safety switch into donor immune cells to ensure they can be turned off if problems arise.

The new grant builds on nearly 35 years of large-scale funding from the NHLBI that Storb has received to develop and improve stem-cell transplants for noncancerous conditions.