“What this study suggests is that cord blood need not be considered a second line therapy any longer. The fact that cord blood is banked and readily available with little notice is a great advantage. Today, leukemia patients can wait months for an appropriately matched bone marrow donor, during which time their disease might return,” Wagner said. “For the first time, the timing of transplantation can be dictated by the patient’s needs as opposed to the availability of the matched bone marrow.”
The research suggests that it will become more important to invest in cord blood banks that meet certain standards in relation to cell dose (or volume of the transplanted cells) and Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) diversity.
Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA) are a group of proteins on bone marrow cells that can provoke the immune system to respond. When doing bone marrow or cord blood transplants, doctors generally try to have the donors’ and recipients’ HLA types match as closely as possible.
Wagner added that increasing the inventory will increase the chance of finding donors for ethnic and racial minorities currently underrepresented in volunteer marrow registries worldwide.
While the study showed that umbilical cord blood took longer to rebuild the blood-making cells in the body, it was associated with a lower risk of graft versus host disease, a potentially lethal complication, especially when HLA types are mismatched. Rates of leukemia relapse also are lower with mismatched umbilical cord blood transplants. This study also showed that in addition to having a good match, higher cell doses for umbilical cord blood transplants improved survival rates.
The study was done by extensive review of clinical data
Source:University of Minnesota