A technical obstacle has been overcome and the first successful use of expanded umbilical-cord blood units to treat leukemia and other blood cancers has been made by scientists.
Experts at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center spent their efforts in making umbilical-cord-blood transplants a more widely-used method.
Colleen Delaney and colleagues based their work on an approach by developed by Irwin Bernstein, a member of the Hutchinson Center's Clinical Research Division.
The pioneering technique to vastly expand the number of stem/progenitor cells from a single unit of cord blood in the laboratory that were then infused into patients resulting in successful and rapid engraftment could decrease the risk of early death, the authors 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, explained: "The real ground-breaking aspect of this research is that we have shown that you can manipulate stem/progenitor cells in the lab with the goal of increasing their numbers. When given to a person, these cells can rapidly give rise to white blood cells and other components of the blood system."
The study was published in the Nature Medicine.