Cord Blood Program
The laboratory and clinical research components of our Cord Blood Program work together and in collaboration with our colleagues across the Hutch to improve outcomes for cord blood transplant recipients. This collaboration emphasizes better understanding of how cord blood cells engraft (take hold in a patient), improving conditioning regimens, and developing standards of care for infection prevention. Our work has explored conventional as well as innovative approaches to achieving these goals. The Cord Blood Program has conducted over 300 cord blood transplants to date. Outcomes for our patients reflect this effort, with survival rates equivalent to patients receiving unrelated donor bone marrow or peripheral blood hematopoietic cell transplants.
Laboratory and clinical research components of the Cord Blood Program, led by Dr. Colleen Delaney, are focused on the development of revolutionary techniques for improving outcomes from transplantation and changing the standards of care to help prevent infection and speed recovery after transplant or chemotherapy. This is being done by harnessing cord blood's lifesaving power.
Cord blood as a source of donor cells for transplant offers many benefits: it can be collected easily and stored for later use, it does not have to be as well matched as bone marrow or peripheral blood to a patient’s tissue type for transplantation, and there is a lower risk of viral transmission or a serious complication known as graft-versus-host disease. However, a major drawback is the low number of blood stem cells found in each cup-sized donation.
Based on findings from Dr. Irwin D. Bernstein’s lab at Fred Hutch and in collaboration with his group, Dr. Delaney has developed a breakthrough technique that significantly multiplies, or expands, the number of stem cells in each cord blood donation.
These expanded cord blood stem cells, which are being tested in clinical trials now, may be used in conjunction with other therapies to provide patients going through transplant or chemotherapy with a bridge of infection-fighting cells while they wait for blood and immune system recovery. Delaney's vision is to create a therapy that can become FDA approved and be given to patients around the world.
The clinical trials have shown that patients who receive expanded cord blood cells as part of their cord blood transplant recover their infection-fighting white blood cells about twice as fast as patients receiving non-expanded cord blood transplants — ultimately resulting in fewer infections and less-severe side effects.