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First successful use of expanded umbilical-cord blood units to treat leukemia
Date:1/17/2010

ng their numbers. When given to a person, these cells can rapidly give rise to white blood cells and other components of the blood system," said Delaney, an assistant member in the Hutchinson Center's Clinical Research Division and an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine

The stem cell expansion was possible by activating the Notch signaling pathway in the stem cells. This approach was developed by Irwin Bernstein, M.D., a member of the Hutchinson Center's Clinical Research Division, and was initially published in Nature Medicine in 2000. A decade of work ensued resulting in successful translation of the laboratory findings to patients in a clinical setting.

Delaney and colleagues built upon Bernstein's earlier work by engineering a protein that can be used in the lab to activate the Notch signaling pathway in stem cells and manipulate the cells in tissue culture to expand in quantity.

This successful laboratory method for expanding the number of stem/progenitor cells from a single unit of cord blood resulted in an average 164-fold increase in the number of CD34+ cells, a type of hematopoietic stem cell. Such cells are multipotent and give rise to all types of blood cells. Delaney said that a typical unit of cord blood usually contains less than 200,000 stem cells per kilogram of body weight of the recipient patient. In contrast, the expanded units contained on average 6 million CD34+ cells per kilogram of body weight, which is on par with conventional transplant sources.

The current study also describes the outcomes of 10 patients in an ongoing phase 1 clinical trial who received two units of cord blood to treat high-risk, acute leukemia. Each patient received one unit of non-manipulated cord blood and one in which the cells were expanded in the lab. Researchers evaluated the safety of infusing the expanded cells as well as how long it took to reconstitute the blood system,
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Contact: Dean Forbes
dforbes@fhcrc.org
206-667-2896
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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