June 6, 1997 WASHINGTON, DC -- Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center have completed a study comparing the effectiveness of three main sources of stem cells for bone marrow transplantation: fetal bone marrow from spontaneous abortions, umbilical cord blood and adult bone marrow.
The study, done by Maria Michejda, Ph.D. and colleagues at Georgetown, shows that fetal bone marrow is eight times more effective than umbilical cord blood, and 23 times more effective than adult bone marrow for bone marrow transplantation
Besides the shortage of matching donors, the biggest problem with bone marrow transplantation is graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). GVHD occurs when the immune system of the donor's marrow identifies the recipient's body as foreign and tries to destroy it.
The investigators found that compared to cord blood and adult bone marrow, fetal bone marrow contains the highest concentration of CD34+ cells which are responsible for creating new blood cells, and the lowest concentrations of CD-3 cells, which are responsible for identifying and rejecting foreign tissue. The lower the level of CD-3 cells, the lower the chances of GVHD.
The paper was presented last month at the Pediatric Societies' Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.
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