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Cord blood transplants predicted to increase by 500%

The National Marrow Donor Program in the United States projects that 10,000 cord blood stem cell transplants will be performed annually by 2015, up from 2,000 in 2006… an increase of a staggering 500% according to Dr Robert Dracker, Executive Medical Director, Americord Registry.

The leading haematologist, transfusion medicine specialist and recognised leader in cord blood banking Dr Dracker said, “Stem cells are being used in life-saving therapies such as leukemia, lymphoma and other blood disorders. The number of diseases that can be treated by stem cells continues to grow as researchers discover new treatments, many of which are in clinical trials or considered experimental. As the list of diseases grows, more parents are electing to store the cord blood of their newborns in anticipation that their child, the child’s siblings or other relatives may one day benefit from it.”

“There has been a dramatic increase in the use of autologous (your own) cord blood for therapy. This rapid rise can be partially attributed to an increase in the number of patients with some form of brain injury – the most common being Cerebral Palsy (CP) and Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE). According to the International Society for Cellular Therapy, the statistics show that the cumulative probability of a child receiving an allogeneic (someone else’s) stem cell transplant by age 10 is low, only 1 in 5000. Autologous therapy treatments are actually more likely.”

“The benefits of private banking of cord blood and newborn stem cells for future medical treatments are impressive. Private banking provides a better chance of patient matching, with a 100% match for the ‘banked’ child and a 25-50% probability of a match with the patient’s siblings, depending upon disease and acceptable match criteria determined by a doctor. In addition, there is a lower chance of graft-versus-host disease — a potentially life-threatening condition.

“New techniques for cord blood harvesting have emerged, designed to provide more treatment options to a greater variety of patients. In June this year, Johns Hopkins graduate students announced the invention of a system that significantly boosts the number of stem cells collected from a newborn’s umbilical cord and placenta, which could allow more patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood disorders to be treated with these cells. Without adequate collection methods, 90% of these cells are discarded.

“As the rapid rise of autologous therapy continues, especially for CP and acute traumatic brain injury, the necessity for private banking will increase. The medical science and technology have kept pace with this trend and will continue to do so. Physicians remain enthusiastic about the potential use of placenta stem cells in the emerging fields of gene therapy and cellular repair.”

Dr. Robert Dracker, Executive Medical Director, Americord Registry, is a leading hematologist, transfusion medicine specialist and recognized leader in cord blood and stem cell banking. Dr. Dracker was recently named as a consultant to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Pediatric Advisory Committee.

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