CORD BLOOD: Project Aims To Boost Supply for Minorities
Duke University Hospital today will begin distributing umbilical cord blood to six transplant centers nationwide to increase African-American patients' access to the experimental treatment, often the last resort for patients who cannot find a suitable match for a bone marrow transplant. The project, funded by a five-year, $8.8 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, aims to increase the supply of cord blood by 6,000 or 7,000 units within five years and to establish the best methods for processing and storing the blood. In addition to Duke, the project includes University of California-Los Angeles, which is working to increase the availability of cord blood for Hispanic and Asian patients, and Georgetown University. "The number of potential bone-marrow donors for minority patients is so low that odds for an acceptable match are very limited," said Joanne Kurzberg, lead researcher for the Duke project. The immature stem cells contained in cord blood can be injected into patients who cannot find a bone marrow donor. The immature stem cells do not have to match a patient genetically, therefore lowering the risk that the patient's immune system will reject the transplanted cells and increasing the likelihood that the cells will develop into healthy, functioning cells (AP /Winston-Salem Journal, 11/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.