Sibling Cord Blood May Offer Best Match Chance For Some Patients

December 04, 1998

MIAMI -- Children needing bone marrow transplants may find their best chance in umbilical cord blood from a sibling, even if the transplant is only partially matched to the recipient's blood type, according to Duke researchers.

Researchers have found cord blood can restore bone marrow when the recipient/donor type match is not as close as that necessary in bone marrow transplants. A bone marrow transplant generally is successful only with a perfect match of all six antigens. Successful cord blood transplants from unrelated donors have been performed when only four of six antigens matched.

Four children ranging from 2 1/2 to 6 1/2 years old, all suffering from inherited blood diseases that lead to death in childhood, received "haplo-identical," or half matched, sibling umbilical cord blood transplants to replace their bone marrow. None of the patients who had half-match transplants from siblings had serious graft versus host disease. The transplants were successful in three of the four patients, who are alive and well 12 to 29 months after transplant.

The findings were prepared for presentation Friday at the annual conference of the American Society of Hematology.

The success offers hope for patients who otherwise may not find a suitable match for transplant, said Dr. Paul Martin of Duke's pediatric bone marrow and cord blood transplant program. Three out of four siblings will be at least a 3/6, or half match for transplantation, he said.

"Harvesting a sibling's blood may offer a curative therapy in three out of four cases," he said.

The next step, he said, will be further investigation in the use of haplo-identical cord blood transplant in patients with cancer.

Duke University Medical Center

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