What is the use of cord blood?
Cord blood was first used for transplantation in Paris in 1988. The patient was a boy suffering from a serious genetic disease, Fanconi anemia. The donor of cord blood was his younger sister. Today he is healthy young man and has a family of his own. Since that success cord blood has been used over 20 000 times, not just in children, but in adults too.
Autologous (own) cord blood can be used to treat all disorders where autologous bone marrow is generally used, particularly childhood cancers (neuroblastoma, medulloblastoma), lymphomas, some types of leukemia, solid tumors, acquired disorders of hematopoiesis, autoimmune diseases etc. The use of autologous cord blood is possible for adults too. In fact the number of disease treatable by autologous cord blood transplantation increases with age.
Banked cord blood can also be used for a sibling in need of stem cells from a donor. In such a case the siblings have to be compatible in certain tissue characteristics called HLA antigens.
Autologous cord blood could not be used to treat genetic defect or in the case of early onset of leukemia (under 2 years of age). In both these cases it is necessary to find a suitable donor among siblings or in public registries.
Cord blood donated by mothers to a public bank is used to treat diseases where stem cells transplantation from a donor is needed (allogenic). In Japan and the U.S. cord blood is the most common source of hematopoietic cells for allogenic transplantations for children.