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Advantages of Using Cord Blood for Stem Cells vs. Bone Marrow

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Advantages of Using Cord Blood for Stem Cells vs. Bone MarrowThere are many advantages to using stem cells from umbilical cord blood than stem cells from bone marrow. 

  • Obtaining a cord blood sample is painless unlike bone marrow sampling which requires the insertion of a needle into the bone to harvest the marrow.
  • Cord blood has less rejection because there does not need to be a perfect HLA match. This means that instead of a perfect 6 of 6 match (as required in bone marrow sampling), cord blood only requires a minimum of 4 of 6 match.
    • Graft-versus-host-disease occurs when the donor's immune cells recognize the transplant recipient's cells as "foreign" and attack the recipient's body. This occurs in approximately 60% of bone marrow transplants verses approximately 10% of cord blood transplants.
  • Cord blood sampling takes approximately 5 minutes (usually less) to collect, whereas bone marrow sampling takes 1-2 hours.
  • Cord blood stem cells are readily available.
  • Cord blood has less pathogens (virus, bacteria, etc) than bone marrow.
  • Stem cells are abundant in cord blood samples  (approximately 10 times greater than bone marrow samples). It is important to note, however, that due to the amount of blood collected (lower volume), there may not be enough cells available depending on the size of the recipient.
The National Cord Blood Program provides this very informative side-by-side comparision table of bone marrow vs cord blood stem cells (click here to view).
National Cord Blood Program. Cord Blood Transplants
Kurtzberg, J. et al. Untying the Gordian knot: policies, practices, and ethical issues related to banking of umbilical cord blood. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2005 October 1; 115(10): 2592–2597.
Powell, J. et al. Pediatric Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation: Types of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation

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