On September 19, 2014, Dr Guy Sauvageau, principal stem cell genetics investigator at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer at the Universite de Montreal, confirmed the findings of his new research. The Canadian researcher, along with his team, was able to find a way to boost the number of umbilical cord stem cells drawn from a single unit of cord blood. The means that more adult patients with leukemia, other cancers and blood related disorders can now go in for transplants, which could be potentially lifesaving.
Multiplying Stem Cells
A molecule was developed by the team at the Universite de Montreal, which proved to be the key to multiplying the stems. This, coupled with a bio-reactor, has shown to successfully allow significant increase in the number of umbilical cord stem cells drawn from a single unit of cord blood. The molecule, dubbed UM171, is still under a line of testing to find out future effects.
Why the Need to Multiply?
A unit of blood from the cord is enough to treat a child; however, an adult requires more units. This is due to the significant size difference between adult and child. Umbilical cord stem cells have the ability to transform and give rise to different types of stems, including that of the blood and immune system that protect our body. While your child’s cord might be a match for a relative, other donor matches are difficult to come by. People diagnosed with myeloma, lymphoma or even leukemia need to go through stem cell therapy, often a last resort for saving life.
Most doctors are faced with the challenge of finding viable stem components that are a perfect match, with a relatively low risk percentage of rejection by the recipient. This poses a bigger problem nowadays due to the large mix of ethnic groups. And even if such a match is found; a single unit is not sufficient to regenerate and restore a large adult system, particularly the blood and immune systems.
The Scope of Such Transplants
To date, stem cell therapies have seen a positive success rate; coupled with the ease of collection and availability. They have been used to treat malignant diseases, such as acute lymphocytic leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, myeloma, neuroblastoma and myelodysplastic syndrome, to name a few. The treatment of non-malignant diseases include aplastic anemia, Gaucher disease, immunodeficiency disease and congenital cytopenia.
Thus, it is highly recommended that parents bank their child’s umbilical cord stem cells so that it can be used in future conditions contracted by the child or by a family member.