Au18-Canadian Cord-Blood Procedure Passes Key Milestone in Cancer Clinical Trial

A new cord-blood technology developed by Canadian researchers has just passed a key milestone and will now move onto Phase I/II clinical trials.  The technology multiplies the number of cord blood stem cells that can be obtained from a cord blood sample, allowing doctors to give patients larger transfusions of cord blood cells.

The researcher’s stem-cell technology has already been used to multiply stem cells for 25 patients during initial trials.  The results of these initial tests were positive, so the researchers will be moving onto more exhaustive trials in the future.

Patients often receive transplants of cord blood stem cells to treat various forms of blood cancers, immune system disorders, blood disorders, and metabolic disorders.  Cord blood stem cells are particularly useful as they are less likely to be rejected by the recipient’s body.

The main challenge doctors face when using cord blood stem cells is that the sample size is often very small.  As Dr. Sandra Cohen, a haematologist from the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital in Montreal explains “You get what you get. You can’t call up the baby and say ‘I want more cells,’”

This new technology overcomes this issue by multiplying the number of stem cells in the sample before they are given to the patient.  It can increase the number of stem cells in a sample by up to 35 times over a 7 day period — creating a large sample and a much better chance of a successful treatment.

The initial trial ran for 3 years and looked at the efficacy of treatments performed with expanded cord blood samples.  The results were very positive, with better outcomes for patients compared to transplants using standard cord blood stem cell samples.

Patients suffering from leukaemia who received the expanded cord blood had a 75% survival rate, while patients receiving a conventional cord blood transplant had a 60% survival  rate.

The technology is only made possible by a molecule called UM171.  It can bind to stem cells and prevent them from differentiating into blood cells.  Instead, the stem cells continue to create more stem cells.  Additional trials will begin this year.

Source: Canadian cord-blood procedure passes key milestone in cancer trial