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Cord Blood Regulatory T cells Provide New Hope for Transplant Patients

Jul 20, 2016 1:00:08 PM / by Dalia Gaddis

Umbilical cord blood has proven to be beneficial for saving lives in multiple diseases. Scientists find the regulatory T cells derived from cord blood can also save patients receiving cancer immunotherapy. Image Credit: clinical trial shows that cord blood regulatory T cells help reduce GVHD in high-risk blood malignancies.

One of the worst adverse effects of bone marrow or stem cell transplant is graft versus host disease. Side effects can range from rashes to a complete destruction of vital organs such as kidneys or liver. Thanks to regulatory T cells from cord blood, transplant patients may have a better therapy option.

Graft versus host disease, or GVHD, is a serious complication that occurs when patients receive bone marrow, or other cell types, from another individual. These transplants are common in patients suffering from lympho-hematopoietic cancers. The transferred cells, which view the recipient’s organs as foreign, attack patient’s organs cells. The closer the donor to the patient’s genetic makeup, the less likely that GVHD will happen. Patients receiving bone marrow or stem cells transplant are usually put on immunosuppressive medications and anti-inflammatory drugs to minimize GVHD occurrence. However, these interventions leave the patients with a weakened immune system and therefore a higher chance of severe infections to occur. 1

In a recent study published in the journal Blood, scientists examined whether cord blood regulatory T cells can reduce GVHD in transplant patients. The researchers derived regulatory T cells from cord blood using in vitro expansion methods. Then, they transferred these expanded regulatory T cells into 11 patients that had advanced high-risk blood malignancies and have received bone marrow or stem cell transplants. The control group received standard immune suppressive regimens. Although there was no difference in relapse or survival between the regulatory T cell-treated and control groups, the cord blood regulatory T cell-treated group showed significantly less GVHD at the acute phase (100 days following transplant) and at the chronic phase (1 year post-transplant). These results provide hope for novel therapeutic measures for patients undergoing these serious treatments.2

We are excited about these results and will be following future cord blood regulatory T cells studies. At HemaCare, we provide researchers with regulatory T cells and cord blood cells that can be used to test their roles in various diseases. If you have any questions or would like to place an order, give us a call us at (877) 397-3087.



2 Brunstein C.G. et al. 2016. Umbilical cord blood-derived T regulatory cells to prevent GVHD: kinetics, toxicity profile, and clinical effect. Blood, 127 (8); doi: 10.1182/blood-2015-06-653667.

Topics: Cord Blood, Regulatory T Cells

Dalia Gaddis

Written by Dalia Gaddis

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