(02/11/13) - Newborn babies may be the next great weapon against cancer. The
tiniest among us hold the key for hundreds of patients who need bone marrow
transplants, but cannot find matches.
Jessie Quinn's daughter gave her the motivation to fight when Jessie was diagnosed with Leukemia. "That was the first thing that went through my head actually. It was, 'ah, you know, I wanted to be able to see Luna grow up.'"
Doctors could not find a bone marrow match for Jessie. That is when she became patient number one in a clinical trial using cord blood stem cells from the placentas of newborn babies.
"Now we know that cord blood, which is generally thrown away as medical waste, also contains these blood forming cells," says Dr. Colleen Delaney of the Fred Huthinson Cancer Research Center.
Stem cells taken from the cord blood are transplanted into patients. Those stem cells replace the diseased blood and the immune system, and wage war on the cancer.
"Not only do their white blood cells come faster, but they also don't get the same side effects from the chemotherapy," Delaney says.
Most importantly, the doctor adds, cord blood stem cells do not have to be a perfect match for the patient. "We have a bank of these cells that can be used for any patient."
Jessie is now in remission. "I was just glad there was another option."
Dr. Delaney is beginning a new multi-center clinical trial using cord blood stem cells for cancer patients.
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