Facebook Twitter

Use of sibling’s cord cuts rejection, study shows

SHARE Use of sibling’s cord cuts rejection, study shows

BOSTON — A study of 2,165 blood and bone-marrow transplants in children has found that using a sibling's umbilical cord blood is less likely to cause the recipient's body to reject the donated material.

But children who receive blood from the umbilical cords of their newborn siblings instead of bone marrow are no more likely to live longer and the transplant cells can take longer to rebuild the immune system, according to the study, recently published in New England Journal of Medicine.

Because the survival rate was the same and bone marrow transplants worked faster, the study said "overall, the data suggest that umbilical cord blood is as effective as bone marrow as a source of hematopoietic stem cells for children who receive transplants from HLA-identical (matched) siblings."

The transplants are used for treating a variety of blood-related diseases, including several forms of cancer. Doctors have been using umbilical cord blood for more than a decade.

Because the cells in the blood are not mature enough to spark a full-blown immune reaction — but still are able to rebuild a damaged immune system — doctors have suspected the technique may be better than using bone marrow, which may carry disease.

The new study, led by Dr. Vanderson Rocha of Saint Louis Hospital in Paris, compared the results of the two techniques to see which was more likely to produce graft-vs.-host disease, a condition in which the donated cells' immune system attacks the body, producing rashes, fever and other symptoms.

Data from two registries — one tracking 113 children who had received cord blood from siblings with identical tissue types and the other listing 2,052 bone marrow recipients who got matched marrow from a brother or sister — showed that the rate of graft-vs.-host disease among cord blood recipients was about 60 percent lower than for bone marrow recipients.

Graft-vs.-host disease "was lower after transplantation with cord blood than after transplantation with bone marrow," the researchers concluded.

The team said that because matched siblings are often unavailable when a transplant is needed, "comparisons similar to those made in this study are needed for transplants of cord blood and bone marrow from unrelated donors."