Stem-cell transplantation

Stem-cell transplantation (haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation) had become a routinely done, safely applied therapy in the medical practice already in the 70’s. Nowadays the professional literature registers 85-90 types of serious diseases curable by stem-cell transplantation. Medical indications for stem-cell transplantation are characteristic with clinical pictures concerning the haematopoietic - and immune system, tumour diseases and certain metabolic disorders.

Depending on the origin of the disease, the transplantation requires autologue (deriving from the patients own body) or allogene (donor) stem-cells can be utilized. In the latter case, if another person gives the stem-cells (bone marrow, blood or umbilical cord blood), the donor can be either a close relative of the patient, or a genetically independent person. In case of allogene stem-cell transplantation, the HLA (human leucoyte antigen) structure of the donor and the recipient (the patient who receives the stem-cells) must match. Differences are acceptable in no more than one or two subgroups. Regarding the HLA matching, donors are available for transplantation only in 30-40% of the cases.

It is known from the early 80’s, that the umbilical cord and the placenta, which would otherwise be thrown away at the birth, contain a proper quantity and good quality of high self-sustaining capacity young stem-cells suitable for haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation, which can be collected and stored for future therapeutical use. The first successful stem-cell transplantation was performed in 1988. Since then more than 20.000 units of umbilical cord blood culture had been utilized all over the world. In the USA in 2009, out of all stem-cell transplantations within that year, regarding the sources of stem-cells utilized for stem-cell transplantations, the rate of stem-cells deriving from the umbilical cord blood reached 30% and it was even higher, 50% regarding the population under 18.

The umbilical cord blood contains few immature stem-cells capable for stable bone-marrow repopulation and its lymphocytes are less alloreactive, which means that there is a lower chance for the serious GVH (graft versus host) reaction following the transplantation. Yet the graft versus leukaemia works well therefore the umbilical cord blood grafts can successfully be utilized against malignus haematopoietic diseases. Further advantages of the umbilical cord blood grafts, that they are less infected by certain viruses such as CMV, they can easily be collected and can immediately be applied (as they only have to be unfreezed), meanwhile donor search can last months and also most of the times it is already too late for the patient. For those people who own an especially rare HLA-type, it means a great