New Stem Cell Developments
There are about 6,000 Americans who need a bone marrow transplant, daily.
For many, the odds of finding an outside donor have been pretty low, but that could start to change.
At Duke University’s medical center in North Carolina, sits little Elmor Bonilla. Just shy of his second birthday, Elmor has overcome obstacles and odds most people don’t face over a lifetime.
Elmor was born with Krabbe disease, a rare and often fatal disorder that attacks the central nervous system. His best shot at survival is a bone marrow transplant – immediately.
“It is critical that those transplantations for inherited metabolic diseases is done early,” transplate specialist Vinod Prasad said.
Despite no donor matches in his family and only a 30% chance of finding a match from an unrelated donor, Elmor got his transplant – not from bone marrow, but from umbilical cord blood. It too contains stem cells patients need.
“Cord blood can be as good as bone marrow transplantation,” said Prasad.
Even better, it may be available to more patients, because it doesn’t require a close match.
A Duke University study found children who received mismatched cord blood from unrelated donors had results similar to those who received unrelated matched bone marrow transplants.
“I would expect and hope that this analysis and analysis of other centers would encourage more transplant physicians to consider mismatch cord blood as a potential source of graft for more and more patients,” said Prasad.
Elmor came through the procedure with flying colors and is now ready to tackle being two.
The Duke researchers said the findings support cord blood as the stem cell source with the greatest potential to offer a transplant to almost every patient who needs one, regardless of race.