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Cord Blood Stem Cell Transplants Found Safe When Treated With A Signaling Molecule!

Caesarian_shown_croppedResearchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital Boston (CHB) have come up with an experimental treatment that enhances the safety of the umbilical cord blood transplants in long term animal studies.

The study details were published in Cell Stem Cell online journal.

Animal models which were transplanted with umbilical cord blood stem cells treated with a signaling molecule known as 16, 16-dimethyl PGE2 did not develop cancer. Moreover, different types of blood cells were reconstituted in these animals.

After submitting the long term safety study results conducted in mice, the team gained permission from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a Phase 1 clinical trial.

The trial was initiated at Dana-Farber and the Massachusetts General Hospital by Corey Cutler, the Principal Investigator of the study, in 2009.

The initial testing was done in zebra fish. According to Wolfram Goessling, the first author of the study, for the first time FDA has given a nod to a compound discovered in zebra fish.

Trista North, the senior author of the study and Wolfram Goessling were pursuing their Post-Doctoral degree when they came across 16, 16-dimethyl PGE2 during their search for compounds that had the capacity to regulate the production of hematopoietic stem cells.

Although the results obtained in animal models are promising, there are some limitations of cord blood transplantation.

One of the major limitations of a cord blood transplant is that the rate at which they engraft in the bone marrow of the recipient is slower than the engraftment of matched cells taken from a donor’s bone marrow.

Moreover, failure rates of umbilical cord blood transplants are higher when compared to other stem cell transplants.

Funding for this study was provided by the National Institutes of Health, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

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