Dallas Medical Center Launches Umbilical Stem Cell Project

January 1, 1995
Volume 4, Issue 1

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.

DALLAS--Two pediatricians at The University of Texas SouthwesternMedical Center at Dallas have established the Umbilical Stem CellProject to procure, test, and store human umbilical cord and placentalblood for use as an alternative to bone marrow in allogeneic transplantpatients who lack a related compatible marrow donor.

'Advantages Are Obvious'

The stem cell project is part of the pediatric bone marrow transplantprogram at Southwestern and Children's Medical Center of Dallas,and the blood will be stored at Southwestern's Transplant ServicesCenter.

Approximately 2 oz of placental blood contains more stem cellsthan a pint of bone marrow. "The advantages of placentalblood over bone marrow are obvious," said Eric Sandler, MD.His colleague in the project is Mahmoud Mustafa, MD, and bothare assistant professors of pediatrics at Southwestern.

Umbilical blood may provide a better match for transplant patientsthan bone marrow from unrelated donors, and will be availableimmediately, compared with the average 4 months required to identifyan unrelated donor match for a cancer patient, Dr. Sandler said.

"Having a large quantity of cord blood units available givesus a better chance of finding a compatible donor for a patientand could significantly increase the number of candidates fortransplants," he said. "This is a safe, potentiallyless expensive and perhaps lifesaving alternative to the use ofunrelated bone marrow donors."

The umbilical cord blood will be collected primarily from babiesdelivered at Parkland Memorial Hospital, the primary teachinghospital for UT Southwestern. Approximately 14,000 babies aredelivered each year at Parkland. With the mother's permission,the blood is harvested within minutes of birth, Dr. Sandler said.

The blood is then tested for infection, HLA typed, stored, andrecorded in the registry. Dr. Sandler said that the data fromthe research at UT Southwestern will be shared with the New YorkBlood Center, one of only a few facilities in the United Statescurrently collecting and storing cord blood for transplantation.