Umbilical cord blood, normally discarded after the delivery of a newborn, may be an extremely useful source of cells needed in the treatment of people with leukemia and other serious blood diseases, according to new research.
Cord blood transplantation appears to be as effective as, and safer than, bone marrow transplantation when there isn’t a perfect genetic match between the donor of the cells and the person receiving them, physicians at Duke University Medical Center reported Wednesday. If the new findings are borne out by further research, this method of transplantation could help surmount a major obstacle many patients face - the lack of suitable bone marrow donors.
“The possibility that you can do transplants without complete (genetic) matching, and with relative impunity, is a real advance,” said Paul McCurdy, director of the blood resources program at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, in Bethesda, Md. The Institute this fall will begin a five-year study of cord blood transplantation at a half-dozen hospitals around the United States.