Stem cell study has got a major breakthrough when the researchers at the LSU Health Sciences Center Children’s Hospital in New Orleans successfully transplanted the stem cells from a baby’s afterbirth to treat a child with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow and blood.

The procedure took place March 28 when the doctors have been successful in using human placenta-derived stem cells and umbilical-cord blood to treat the patient. Doctors said that it is the beginning of a new journey from clinical standpoint. However, doctors said that it is too early to say whether the addition of cells from the placenta to cord blood is what sped the patient’s recovery.

Doctors said that it usually takes 21 to 42 days for transplanted stem cells to engraft, or start growing and making new white blood cells. There also is lots of interesting work that supports the potential that additional stem cells may accelerate blood and bone marrow recovery following a transplant. However, it is not yet clear, how the placenta-derived cells work.

The stem cells and cord blood came from the patient’s sibling, born in December. Baton Rouge-based Celgene Cellular Therapeutics, a subsidiary of New Jersey-based Celgene Corp., played a critical role in developing the technology for collecting, processing and storing the cells. LSU collected the cord blood and placenta, which were processed at Celgene’s facility in Warren, N.J.