Umbilical Stem Cells Provide Safe Blood

Article excerpt

Taking blood stem cells collected from an umbilical cord into the lab and expanding their number before transplanting them to replace a patient's blood supply is as safe as a standard cord blood transplant, report researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, who are addressing the critical challenge to successful "standard" cord blood transplants for adult patients--low doses of stem cells that lead to longer recovery times, leaving patients more vulnerable to bleeding, infection, and transplant failure.

"The major determinant of success in a cord blood transplant is cell dose. A higher dose minimizes early complications and speeds establishment of the new blood supply," reports Marcos de Lima, associate professor in the Department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cell Biology.

The clinical trial randomized patients with advanced leukemias or lymphomas into either a standard cord blood transplant, in which a patient receives blood stem cells from two umbilical cords, or to a second group that receives regular cells from one cord plus cells from a second cord that were exposed to growth factors in the lab to expand their number. "So far, we've shown that this expanded stem cell technique is safe and comparable to the usual double-cord transplant," de Lima notes.

Patients with recurrent, high-risk acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, many types of lymphoma, aplastic anemia, and other genetic and immunologic disorders require blood stem cell transplants to rebuild their blood supply after intense chemotherapy or as a therapeutic attack on their disease. …