Wednesday, 3 February 2010
First successful use of expanded umbilical-cord blood units to treat leukaemia
Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have cleared a major technical hurdle to making umbilical-cord-blood transplants a more widely-used method for treating leukaemia and other blood cancers.
In a study published in the 17 January 2010 edition of Nature Medicine, Colleen Delaney, MD, and colleagues describe the first use of a method to vastly expand the number of stem/progenitor cells from a unit of cord blood in the laboratory that were then infused into patients resulting in successful and rapid engraftment.
The relatively small number of stem cells in cord blood units (about one-10th the number a patient receives from a conventional transplant) has been a reason that cord blood transplants take much longer to engraft than standard stem cell transplants from donors. The longer the engraftment takes, the higher the risk is that immunocompromised patients will acquire life-threatening infections because they have essentially no white blood cells to fight them.
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