March 14, 2008

Cord blood plays an important role in transplants

Umbilical cord blood is one of three sources for the blood-forming cells used in transplants. The other two sources are bone marrow and peripheral (circulating) blood.

The first cord blood transplant was done in 1988.

Cord blood plays an important role in transplants today. Doctors are still learning about the ways cord blood transplants are similar to and different from marrow or peripheral blood transplants.

Umbilical cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord and placenta after a baby is born. This blood is rich in blood-forming cells.

The donated cord blood is tested, frozen and stored at a cord blood bank for future use. The stored cord blood is called a cord blood unit. (Source: National Marrow Donor Program)

Dr. Scott Goebel, who is the stem cell transplant doctor responsible for cord blood transplants at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, said some of the diseases currently treated with cord blood stem cell transplants include leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma,

non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, sickle cell disease, aplastic anemia, neuroblastoma, retinoblastoma and multiple myeloma.

Clinical trials are ongoing, utilizing cord blood stem cells for multiple sclerosis, Krabbé disease, adrenoleukodystrophy, Tay-Sachs disease, Niemann-Pick disease, breast cancer, Ewing’s sarcoma and renal cell carcinoma.

Experimental treatments are under way for juvenile and rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, type I diabetes mellitus, scleroderma, lupus, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” and spinal cord injury. †

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