Magazine article USA TODAY

Better Survival Rate from Umbilical Blood

Magazine article USA TODAY

Better Survival Rate from Umbilical Blood

Article excerpt

Umbilical cord blood transplants may have advantages beyond offering an alternative stem cell source for leukemia patients without a traditional donor match, maintains a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The study, led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Wash., found that, in patients at high risk of relapse after transplant, cord blood transplant recipients seem to have better outcomes against leukemia and the related bone marrow disorder, myelodysplastic syndrome.

These patients, who make up about one-third of those facing a stem cell transplant, have what is known as "minimal residual disease," in which the chemotherapy required before transplant is not completely successful at putting their cancer into remission. Only about one-third of patients with detectable cancer in their blood at the time of transplant still will be alive three years later, as compared to nearly three-quarters of those without such residual disease.

"Patients going into transplant with minimal residual disease, they have very dismal outcomes," says transplantation researcher Filippo Milano, lead author of the paper. …

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