Jan 1 2013

Americord Applauds Recent Advance in Improving the Success of Cord Blood Transplant Therapy

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New England Journal of Medicine Publishes Paper on Study Done at MD Anderson Cancer Center

New York – January 2013 – The New England Journal of Medicine published a paper last month about a study on a new approach to improving the success of cord blood stem cell transplants. The study was led by scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the senior author of the paper is Elizabeth Shpall, M.D., a professor in their Department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy. In the study, stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood were placed in an environment mimicking a patient’s bone marrow to improve the development of the cells prior to implantation. Using mesenchymal precursor cells in the laboratory to further develop the hematopoietic stem cells from cord blood prior to transplant into high-risk patients showed improved transplant results. In a press release, the MD Anderson Cancer Center reported that as a result of their approach, “researchers greatly increased the number of cells transplanted, reduced recovery time and increased the proportion of patients whose new blood became established.”

Americord Registry, an industry-leading cord blood bank, views this study as yet another significant advance in the field of stem cell research. An important limitation in the usefulness of stem cells is the fact that on average, the volume of stem cells that can be collected from umbilical cord is only sufficient to treat a patient up to approximately 65 pounds. Finding ways to expand the volume and effectiveness of cord blood stem cells, as the team at the MD Anderson Cancer Center did, will increase the usefulness of stem cells for a greater number of patients seeking medical treatment.

Cord blood, which is found in the umbilical cord and in the placenta, is an easily accessible source of stem cells that are available when a baby is born. Stem cells found in placental and umbilical cord blood are genetically unique to the baby and family, and can be used to treat various medical problems for the child, his or her siblings, and other family members in the future. Currently, more than 80 diseases are treatable using cord blood stem cells.

Advances in stem cell therapies, such as the one at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, are helping parents-to-be decide that preserving their baby’s stem cells is one way to offer their baby and family options for future medical treatment, should it ever be needed.

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