Stem cell or bone marrow transplants are known to save the lives of leukemia sufferers but finding an ideal donor could be a difficult task for most of the patients. When this is the case, alternative methods or umbilical cord blood could provide good results.
Recently, Dr. Filippo Milano, the lead author of the new research mentioned that cord-blood transplant should not be viewed as the last resort, as it is now. He states it must not be treated only as an alternative donor source.
Milano which is also the associate member of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center believes that the cord-blood transplant could have significant outcomes.
The current treatment for leukemia replaces through transplant the patient’s bone marrow. The complicated process firstly involves finding a family member who can donate stem cells or bone marrow and whose blood needs to suit the patient’s blood. Unfortunately, the study author says that more than 70 percent of leukemia sufferers do not find a compatible family member donor. The next recommendation from doctors is to find a compatible unrelated donor who will not be entirely compatible according to the physicians.
The study recommends the transplant of cord blood from the umbilical cord or placenta of newborns. Similar to stem cell or bone marrow transplants, a cord-blood transplant can provide stem cells that generate new blood. The best thing about this method is that recipients and cord-blood donors do not have to be entirely compatible.
Specialists analyzed 582 patients suffering from leukemia. Milano highlighted that if the patient did not have a compatible stem cell or bone marrow transplant available, his other choice was either an incompatible transplant from an unrelated donor or a cord blood transplant.
The findings showed that the survival rate after a cord blood transplant was similar to the ones after compatible transplants from unrelated donors. Moreover, patients who underwent a cord-blood transplant were proved to live longer that those who experienced stem cell or bone marrow transplants from unmatched, unrelated donors.
Milano admitted that the prices for the cord blood transplant could be higher because of the amount of blood required. However, he is confident that due to new technology that will decrease the amount of blood needed, the prices will significantly drop.
Although this method seems to surpass the other transplant therapies, researchers believe that more studies are needed to confirm the benefits of cord blood transplants.
Image source: vimeo
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