Blood breakthrough for leukemia patients

Today, blood cancers such as leukemia are treated with blood and bone marrow transplants which, as we know, are often difficult to match.

Some readers may have heard that umbilical cord blood is being tested against these diseases  because young stem cells often do not generate a reaction from the immune system.   Evenwhen not matched, therefore, they may be accepted by a patient’s system.

However, umbilical cord blood is “far less rich in the stem cells needed to cure the cancer and so takes longer to establish itself in the patient – leaving the patient open to infection and death.”

Now a team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle have come up with a way of  increasing the concentration of stem cells, enriching the blood in the laboratory, and transplanting cells that engraft more quickly. These cells replace the cancerous blood cells giving the patient the chance to produce more healthy cells and advance in the treatment process.

The naysayers of cord blood banking see only what can be done today;  each day more possibilities become apparent in the battle to fight these diseases.

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