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Research shows cord blood comparable to matched bone marrow

University of Minnesota researchers report that umbilical cord blood transplants may offer blood cancer patients better outcomes than bone marrow transplants, according to an analysis of outcome data performed at the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR), Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

This is the first study that directly compares matched bone marrow, which is currently considered the preferred graft, with matched and mismatched umbilical cord blood. There is considerable controversy in the medical community about which source of blood stem cells (cord blood or marrow) should be considered the “gold standard” for treatment of childhood leukemia.

In this study, the investigators compared outcomes of pediatric leukemia patients who received unrelated bone marrow transplants with those who received umbilical cord transplants. While all bone marrow donors were matched, nearly all cord blood donors were mismatched.

The main objective of the research was to compare the results after cord blood and marrow transplantation and provide guidelines to transplant physicians on the selection of the best donor for children with leukemia. Remarkably, mismatched cord blood performed as well as matched bone marrow as measured by leukemia-free survival rates, providing the degree of mismatch was limited and the number of cord blood cells available was sufficient. Furthermore, study participants who received matched cord blood had a 20 percent higher survival rate than matched bone marrow recipients, though the number of matched cord blood transplants was small.

The research appears in the June 9, 2007, issue of The Lancet with John E. Wagner, M.D., professor of Pediatrics and director of the University of Minnesota Medical School’s division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation, as senior investigator.

The study was done in collaboration with the National Cord Bl
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Source:University of Minnesota


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