DALLAS--Two pediatricians at The University of Texas Southwestern
Medical Center at Dallas have established the Umbilical Stem Cell
Project to procure, test, and store human umbilical cord and placental
blood for use as an alternative to bone marrow in allogeneic transplant
patients who lack a related compatible marrow donor.
'Advantages Are Obvious'
The stem cell project is part of the pediatric bone marrow transplant
program at Southwestern and Children's Medical Center of Dallas,
and the blood will be stored at Southwestern's Transplant Services
Approximately 2 oz of placental blood contains more stem cells
than a pint of bone marrow. "The advantages of placental
blood over bone marrow are obvious," said Eric Sandler, MD.
His colleague in the project is Mahmoud Mustafa, MD, and both
are assistant professors of pediatrics at Southwestern.
Umbilical blood may provide a better match for transplant patients
than bone marrow from unrelated donors, and will be available
immediately, compared with the average 4 months required to identify
an unrelated donor match for a cancer patient, Dr. Sandler said.
"Having a large quantity of cord blood units available gives
us a better chance of finding a compatible donor for a patient
and could significantly increase the number of candidates for
transplants," he said. "This is a safe, potentially
less expensive and perhaps lifesaving alternative to the use of
unrelated bone marrow donors."
The umbilical cord blood will be collected primarily from babies
delivered at Parkland Memorial Hospital, the primary teaching
hospital for UT Southwestern. Approximately 14,000 babies are
delivered each year at Parkland. With the mother's permission,
the blood is harvested within minutes of birth, Dr. Sandler said.