Cord Blood Breakthrough Offers Leukemia Hope
Multiplying umbilical stem cells could overcome need for donor matching
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2010 4:00 AM CST
A colony of human embryonic stem cells is seen on a computer monitor hooked to a microscope at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center at University Wisconsin-Madison March 10, 2009.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – A pioneering technique for multiplying umbilical cord cells has placed the long-elusive "holy grail" of leukemia research in sight, offering new hope for bone marrow transplant recipients. Researchers have manipulated a "signaling pathway" in umbilical cord cells to create more stem cells—thus overcoming the longstanding problem of newly produced cells being ordinary blood cells rather than stem cells, BBC reports.

The availability of neutral stem cells in unlimited numbers would remove the need for transplant donor matching—a major obstacle for patients, as 30% of potential stem cell transplant patients overall and 95% of racial minority patients never find a suitable donor, Science Daily reports. Further investment in umbilical cord blood is "crucial if we are to capitalize on this amazing resource and save more lives," a leukemia expert said.
 

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