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Medical News and Perspectives
November 24, 2004

Growing Role for Umbilical Cord Blood

JAMA. 2004;292(20):2453-2454. doi:10.1001/jama.292.20.2453

Boston—Sixteen years after the first successful stem cells transplant using umbilical cord blood, cord blood has proved to be a viable alternative to bone marrow as a source of these life-saving cells to treat a variety of diseases, according to clinicians and researchers who gathered here last month at the Sixth International Cord Blood Society Congress.

Since that landmark effort in 1988, when cord blood donated by a sibling infused into a 5-year-old boy with Fanconi anemia resulted in a durable and functional graft (the former patient is now a healthy 21-year-old man), use of this type of transplant has grown dramatically, especially in children. Today, said experts presenting findings from clinical and laboratory studies, cord blood–derived stem cells are currently being used to treat a variety of malignancies (such as blood cancers and brain tumors) and rare genetic diseases and are showing some therapeutic potential for other conditions.

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