Cord blood stem cell transplants have successfully treated many diseases and debilitating conditions. Stem cells harvested from umbilical cord blood of a newborn baby can develop into any type of organ or tissue such as liver, heart and neural cells. They can also repair tissue and organs damaged in strokes and heart attacks. Umbilical cord blood stem cells and adult leukemia Umbilical cord blood stem cells are commonly used to treat childhood leukemia for many years. However, only in recent years that adults with leukemia have been successfully treated with transplantation of cord blood stem cells from unrelated donors. One case is that of Stephen Sprague who was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) in 1995. Chemotherapy only kept the cancer under control for 17 months. In April 1997, he was in the final stage of the disease. He took part in a clinical trial to determine if adequate amount of cord blood stem cells could be harvested for a successful transplantation to an adult. In November 1997, he underwent a cord blood stem cell transplant and has been cancer free for over 9 years. Umbilical cord blood stem cells and spinal cord injuries In Korea, a team of researchers claimed to have successfully transplanted umbilical cord blood stem cells into the spine of a 37-year old woman. The patient had been paralyzed for 19 years due to an accident. Doctors injected the stem cells directly into the damaged portion of her spine. Within only three weeks, she began walking assisted with a walker, and today she walks well without aid. Umbilical cord blood stem cells and Krabbe disease Great promise has been shown in the treatment of Krabbe Disease and other rare lysomal storage diseases through the transplantation of cord blood stem cells. Krabbe disease occurs in infants, and if left untreated is usually fatal within 2 years. Researchers from Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have made ground breaking progress in the treatment of this disease. Their research shows that newborns who receive umbilical cord blood stem cell transplants while they are still asymptomatic have a much higher chance of survival than children who have already shown symptoms. The key is to catch the disease early enough to prevent the loss of critical brain function. Umbilical cord blood stem cells and Lymphoproliferative disease Umbilical cord blood stem cell transplant has been proven to treat Lymphoproliferative disease. This illness is a rare condition that affects the immune system and makes the patient unable to fight off common germs. Brothers Blayke and Garrett of Los Angeles, California were born with this life threatening disease. Thanks to a cord blood transplant, both boys are now living normal, healthy lives. Umbilical cord blood stem cells and Thalassaemia Thalassaemia is a blood disease in which the body produces deformed red blood cells. Frequent blood transfusions are necessary and previously the only cure was a bone marrow transplant. On 3 July 2001, a cord blood stem cell transplant was carried out on a 5-year old Malaysian Chinese boy with Thalassaemia Major. He is now able to produce normal red blood cells and is cured of Thalassaemia Major. Besides bone marrow transplant from a sibling, cord blood transplant is now a viable treatment for Thalassaemia. With the advancement of stem cell research, the future of cord blood transplant looks promising as more of its potential uses are discovered. Many people suffering from rare diseases and debilitating injuries have been able to lead better quality lives following a cord blood stem cell transplant.
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