Cord Blood Banking & Stem Cell Research News
As the full potential of cord blood is as yet unknown, there is a great deal of research currently being undertaken to discover its capabilities. Cord blood transplantation as a treatment for children with hematological, immunological, metabolic, and neoplastic diseases has been highly successful. The advantage of cord blood transplants is the relatively low rate of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) compared with the rates of GVHD that occur as a result of bone marrow or peripheral blood transplants. Research related to the improved clinical use of cord blood is being conducted in four general areas:
- enhancement of cord blood engraftment
- improvements in immune reconstitution
- reduction in the rates of treatment-related mortality
- augmentation of immune recognition of infectious agents and tumors.
Further research is needed to better understand how cord blood may be used as a source of effector cells (i.e., performing a specific function in the immune system in response to a stimulus) outside the transplant setting. This includes the development of immune regulatory cells that might be useful in solid-organ transplant or for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Cord blood could also be a source of pluripotent stem cells. Research suggests that these pluripotent stem cells, which are capable of differentiation into, for example, hepatocytes and neural progenitor cells, might be present in cord blood.
Research that may improve the effectiveness of cord blood transplantation for the treatment of a variety of conditions is ongoing, including: nonmyeloblative regimens; the use of ex vivo expansion to increase the numbers of HPCs and the development of new approaches to the acceleration of immune recovery; the use of multiple units in transplantation; the coinfusion of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC); and facilitation of the upregulation of homing receptors.
Stem Cell Transplant Indications
• Red cell aplasia