Breakthrough in treating leukemia, lymphoma with umbilical cord blood stem cells

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:

9-Dec-2013

Contact: Jim Ritter jritter@lumc.edu 708-216-2445 Loyola University Health System

MAYWOOD, Il. - Donated umbilical cord blood contains stem cells that can save the lives of patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers.

Now a study lead by a Loyola University Medical Center oncologist has found that growing cord blood stem cells in a laboratory before transplanting them into patients significantly improves survival.

The cell-expansion technology potentially could boost the number of patients who could benefit from life-saving transplants of stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood, said Patrick Stiff, MD, lead author of the study. Stiff, director of Loyola's Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, presented findings at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

The ASH meeting is the preeminent annual event for physicians and scientists in hematology. Data from more than 5,300 abstracts were presented, and Stiff's abstract was selected as one of the 2013 meeting's top submissions.

Stem cell transplants can save lives of patients who have no other options. Patients receive high-dose chemotherapy, and in some cases, high-dose radiation as well. The treatment, unfortunately, kills healthy blood cells along with the cancerous cells. To rebuild the stores of healthy cells, the patient subsequently receives a transplant infusion of immature stem cells. Over time, these stem cells develop into new blood cells.

Stem cells are produced in the bone marrow. In many cases, patients receive bone marrow stem cells donated by family members or Good Samaritans who have signed up with a bone marrow registry.

But fewer than 50 percent of eligible patients can find a matching bone marrow donor. In such cases, stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood can be an effective alternative because these cells do not require perfect matches. (The cord blood is donated by parents of newborns, and frozen in a cord blood bank.)

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Breakthrough in treating leukemia, lymphoma with umbilical cord blood stem cells

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