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Cord Blood Transplant OK for Adult Leukemia

Studies: Cord Blood Transplants Realistic Option for Adult Leukemia Treatment

Umbilical Cord Blood vs. Bone Marrow Transplants continued...

Overall, there were no significant differences in the risks of leukemia relapse, or death between the two groups.

In the second study, researchers compared the results of partially matched versus unmatched cord blood and bone marrow transplants.

The study showed that recovery was slower among those who got cord blood stem cell transplantation or mismatched bone marrow than those who got the matched bone marrow transplants.

The risk of treatment failure and death were also lowest among those who got matched bone marrow transplants.

But people who got mismatched bone marrow or mismatched cord blood had about the same risk of death or treatment failure, and the relapse rate was similar among all the groups.

New Option in Adult Leukemia Treatment

In an editorial that accompanies the studies, Miguel A. Sanz, MD, PhD, of the Hospital Universitario La Fe in Valencia, Spain, says that the results of these studies show that cord blood transplantation is a realistic alternative for the treatment of leukemia in adults.

"Both reports reinforce the role of cord blood transplantation in the treatment of adults with leukemia," writes Sanz. "However, neither group recommends cord blood transplants over HLA-matched marrow from unrelated donors in adults, even though in children, cord blood transplantation is now often used as an alternative to HLA-matched bone marrow from unrelated donors."

Sanz says both groups of researchers agree that cord blood should be used if a matched bone marrow donor is not available within a reasonable time.

Although umbilical cord blood may be increasingly used as a treatment for diseases in children and adults, another report published in the same journal highlights the controversies surrounding the private and public cord blood banks in the U.S.

"The structure of a national cord blood program in the United States remains uncertain," writes Robert Steinbrook, MD, a correspondent for The New England Journal of Medicine. "In many instances, the private storage of umbilical cord blood is not worthwhile."

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