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Leukemia patients survive with stem cell transplant

only as a last resort effort to stay alive," Dr. Laughlin says. "Even with a cord blood transplant, these patients often suffer from life-threatening infections. But the fact is, without attempting this innovative therapy, none of them would survive."

"Techniques that extend the availability of stem cell transplantation to those patients in desperate need are an important and valuable step in the right direction," said Marshall Lichtman, MD, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Executive Vice President. "Dr. Laughlin's study gives renewed hope to adult patients without a sibling stem cell donor. Continued research is needed, however, to improve the outlook for the large proportion of patients who do not yet benefit from these approaches." The Society helped fund the study.

Cord blood transplantation provides leukemia patients with stem cells, enabling them to produce healthy blood cells in a procedure previously shown to be highly effective in children with the disease. As a stem cell source, umbilical cord blood is not controversial and readily available; in fact, cord blood is normally discarded after a baby's birth.

New mothers can donate cord blood immediately after delivery. Ordinarily, the placenta (the afterbirth), and the cord blood it contains, is discarded. Now a trained technician can collect the cord blood which remains in the placenta after the baby is born and the cord is cut. The donated cord blood is processed and frozen and stored for any patient in the future that might need a transplant.

The availability of cord blood makes it a logical choice for doctors and their patients when a matching bone marrow donor cannot be found. A patient's best chance for survival comes from a bone marrow donor who is related to the patient and matches the patient's tissue type. A bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor may be an option when there is no donor available in the family, but offers a
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Contact: Eileen Korey
eileen.korey@uhhs.com
216-844-3825
University Hospitals of Cleveland
24-Nov-2004


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