More than 35,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in United States, for which a bone marrow or peripheral blood cell transplant is required.
A growing, alternative source is available through cord blood banks, which collect stem cells from donated umbilical cord blood.
Cord Blood is collected by a syringe in a bag minute after the baby is born, and the blood is then processed (undergoes centrifugation and the RBCs are removed), and sent for preservation in Freezers.
Potential advantages of cord blood stem cell transplantation over marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplants include:
- Larger potential donor pool
- Rapid availability, since the cord blood has been prescreened, tested, frozen, and is ready to use
- No donor attrition, since the cord blood stem cells are already stored
- Potential for greater racial diversity and balance in the donor pool by focusing collection efforts on hospitals where births of children from diverse ethnic backgrounds are well-represented
- No risk or discomfort for the donor
- Rare contamination by viruses, and
- Lower risk of graft-versus-host disease or GVHD (a condition that occurs when donor cells attack the recipient’s organs and tissues), allowing for transplants with less-than-perfect HLA match.