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New approach to expand cord blood stem cells

Using cord blood for transplant, following chemotherapy for leukemia, significantly lowers the chance of host rejection. However, it usually takes four weeks for white blood cells to generate in numbers that can protect a patient from infection. During this period the patient is continuously in danger since any kind of infection could harm his life. Delaney's work at the Fred Hitchinson center in Seattle has cut that time in half, to fourteen days by expanding cord blood stem cells ex vivo before transplantation. When these cells  were infused in a clinical setting after a myeloablative preparative regimen for stem cell transplantation, the time to neutrophil recovery was substantially shortened. This news has the potential to revolutionize a range of treatment options besides acute leukemia. But for those leukemia patients without a bone-marrow match, it could be the difference between life and death.

Nature Medicine, 232 - 236 (2010).

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