One of the most common uses for cord blood stem cells is aiding in the treatment of various forms of leukaemia. We know that a cord blood transplant is an essential part of the process, but what actually happens when a transplant takes place?
The main purpose for a transplant using UCB is to reconstitute the patients blood system with healthy blood cells after the eradication of the cancer. First, a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy is used to kill off the cancer cells. These treatments also destroy the healthy blood cells so these need to be replaced. During this time, the patient is highly susceptible to infection and bleeding and their chances of survival are slim without a stem cell transplants.
When a patient receives a transplant of cord blood stem cells, healthy cells are introduced into the patient’s system. The source of the Umbilical Cord Blood is usually from a healthy family member. There have been cases where the patients own cells are used but this is rare. At this point, the transplanted stem cells will produce a new immune system that will also help to eliminate any cancer cells that remain. The patient is left with healthy blood cells and a new immune system.
As such, hundreds of cord blood transplants have taken place to aid in the treatment of those suffering from leukaemia. It has proven to be an effective treatment in many patients around the world.