Transplanting umbilical-cord blood-stem cells might provide an improved alternative to bone-marrow transplants in childhood cancer patients, according to research conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.

Some 40 umbilical-cord blood-stem cell transplants have been performed worldwide since 1989, including Southwestern Medical Center's first procedure, performed last November, by Eric Sandler, M.D., FAAP. Dr. Sandler is co-director of the hospital's Umbilical Stem Cell Project. The project aims to procure, test and store human umbilical-cord and placental blood for use as an alternative to bone-marrow transplants. Cord blood is banked by human leukocyte antigen (HLA) types. Southwestern is one of five umbilical-cord blood banks in the United States, Dr. Sandler said.

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