Researchers have found that that umbilical cord blood transplants may provide better results than bone marrow transplants in blood cancer patients.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by John E. Wagner at the University of Minnesota.
As part of the study, researchers compared the results of pediatric leukemia patients who received unrelated bone marrow transplants with the ones who received umbilical cord transplants at the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR), Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, to give guidelines for selecting the best possible donor for leukemia suffering children While all bone marrow donors were matched first, most of the cord blood donors were mismatched.
Researchers found that mismatched cord blood was as good as matched bone marrow after measuring leukemia-free survival rates, implying that the mismatch was in a limited degree and the amount of cord blood cells that existed were adequate.
The study also found that participants who got matched cord blood had higher survival rate than matched bone marrow receiver, though the number of matched cord blood transplants was less.
"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," Wagner added.
This research also showed that apart from having a good match, higher cell doses for umbilical cord blood transplants enhanced survival rates.
The findings of the study were published in the June issue of The Lancet.