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Double cord-blood transplant helps cancer patients

For patients with blood diseases who need a stem cell transplant, doctors often turn to umbilical cord blood. But the small supply of blood in each cord is often inadequate to meet the needs of an adult patient (SN: 10/26/02, p. 261: Blood Booster: Growth signal shifts cord stem cells into high gear).

To up the stem cell dose in each transplant, researchers gave 32 adults with lethal blood cancers stem cell transplants from two cord-blood donors. Double cord-blood transplants have rarely been used because of fears that immune cells from two donors might attack each other and derail the treatment.

In all but three of the cases receiving double transplants, however, the stem cells successfully grafted into the patient's bone marrow, says Juliet N. Barker of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

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