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. (Read more stem cells stories.)