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 Center.
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.