Patients with acute leukemia who are transplanted with 2 units of umbilical cord blood (UCB) have a reduced risk of disease recurrence, according to a study published in Blood (2009;114[19]:4293-4299).

Michael Verneris, MD, and John Wagner, MD, led a team of researchers who studied 88 patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and 89 patients with acute myeloid leukemia (ALL) and compared the outcomes of patients who were transplanted with 1 versus 2 UCB units.

“Our analysis showed that patients in first or second remission from leukemia had a significantly lower likelihood of leukemia recurrence if they were transplanted with 2 UCB units than if they were transplanted with 1 (19% vs 34%),” said Dr Verneris. “We believe our finding provides evidence that using 2 units of UCG for transplantation may be more effective in preventing leukemia relapse and gives hope to patient with hematological malignancies so that they may live cancer-free.”

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“We now know that without this double transplantation routine, the majority of the patients treated would have had not other reasonable treatment option for their leukemia. The fact that they had less leukemia relapse was a wonderful surprise,” Dr Verneris concluded.