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Breakthrough in treating blood cancers

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Posted: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 10:38 am | Updated: 10:44 am, Wed Dec 11, 2013.

Donated umbilical cord blood consists of stem cells that can save lives of leukemia patients, lymphoma, and other blood cancers. Now, researchers have found that growing cord blood stem cells in a laboratory before transplanting them into patients significantly improves survival.

Stem cell transplants can save lives of patients who don’t have other options. Patients receive high-dose chemotherapy, and some cases require high-dose radiation as well. However, the treatment kills cancerous cells and healthy blood cells. To rebuild their healthy cells, patients can receive a transplant infusion of immature stem cells. Eventually, these stem cells develop into new blood cells. A cord blood donation contains only about one ounce of blood, which is usually enough for a child.

The study examined a new technology, StemEx®, which grows cord blood stem cells in an outside laboratory. After 21 days, there’s an approximate 14-fold increase in the number of stem cells available for transplant. Researchers say that the StemEx® transplants were also quicker to engraft.

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