The idea was to create a fairly universal treatment, rather than chasing individual therapies for all of these rare diseases, and to do so with minimal risk to the patients. The results were published in [the July 14] edition of Blood Advances.
To make room in their bone marrow for donor stem cells to take root and prevent them from being rejected, study participants received a low dose of chemotherapy and immunosuppressant drugs in a careful sequence. Once the cells integrated into the patients’ bodies, these drugs were tapered off. To kick the immune system back into gear, the researchers reserved a small fraction of the cord blood and gave it to participants a few weeks after the initial infusion.
It’s important to note that this procedure doesn’t require the donor and recipient to have matching immune profiles.
“That’s huge for ethnic minorities,” [researcher Paul] Szabolcs said. “The probability of a perfect match is very low, but with a cord blood graft, we have a chance to overcome this discrepancy over the course of a couple months and then taper immunosuppressants away.”