WEDNESDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers who have multiplied umbilical cord-blood cells in the laboratory say their technique might improve recovery for patients needing blood stem cell transplants to treat a blood cancer.
Their approach, still in the experimental stage, involves expanding normal blood cells from donated cord blood in conditions similar to those in bone marrow. This greatly enlarges the supply needed for transplant. And because umbilical cord blood is more easily matched in patients than donor bone marrow, the recovery period is safer and shorter, the researchers said.
"Since our very first patients, we had a very strong signal [of success]," said Dr. Marcos de Lima, who led the study while at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
"Recipients of cord-blood transplants are less likely to have some of the complications with the same degree of matching with bone marrow transplants. So if we can be less picky with the matching, immediately our inventory is bigger," said de Lima, now a professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland.
For the study, scientists at M.D. Anderson multiplied blood cells from one of two cords transplanted into 31 patients suffering from blood-borne cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Compared to 80 patients receiving a standard double-cord blood transplant, these patients established a normal blood supply faster and were more likely to survive 100 days post-transplant.
The study is published Dec. 13 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Each year more than 100,000 cases of blood, bone marrow and lymph node cancers are diagnosed in the United States, and more than 50,000 people die from these cancers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For many of these patients, the only c
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