_Childhood Leukaemia And The Help Of Stem Cells
_by Wayne Channon
Cord Blood Stem Cell Transplant WMTV
The risk of any child developing leukaemia is roughly about only 1 in 2000 with more or less 400 to 450 new cases a year in the United Kingdom only. Cure rates approaching seventy five percents can be achieved with combination chemotherapy, but this figure disguises success rates that vary from ten to ninety percent with the different biological subtypes of the disease.
Nowadays, new insights into the underlying molecular biology of leukaemia have changed our understanding of the disease.
Not only is there a prospect of better treatment and the introduction of the new biologically based therapies, but, as the causes of disease are being unraveled, the possibility of prevention may not just be wishful thinking. It has been recognized for a very long time that childhood leukaemia is not one homogeneous disease.
The main morphological division into acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is supplemented by the identification of a range of subsets based on gene expression, antigens that delineate cell type or differentiation status, and chromosomal and molecular abnormalities.
There is now huge evidence that chromosome translocation is very often the first event in infant twins with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, the same breakpoints in the MLL gene.
Further evidence that childhood leukaemia can originate before birth comes from scrutiny of neonatal blood spots or Guthrie cards. PCR tests for specific fusion genes, designed for each patient, can detect as few as 1 in 20 leukaemic cells in a blood spot.
The presence of the same fusion gene sequence in a neonatal blood spot as is in the patient’s leukaemic cells at diagnosis provides unequivocal evidence that leukaemia, has been initiated prenatally, probably by formation of the fusion gene itself.
If this model of leukaemia development is actually correct, it means that for every child with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia diagnosed, there should be at least twenty healthy children who have a chromosome translocation, a functional leukaemia fusion gene, and a covert preleukaemic clone generated in utero.
Cord blood bank can help cure this disease thanks to the stem cells in the cord blood. The cord blood is simply the blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord after a baby is born and can be used because it is so rich in stem cells.
The stem cells found in cord blood restore the function of the patient’s immune and blood producing systems, and is a powerful alternative to using bone marrow.
Wayne Channon, Director of Cells4Life Ltd, a stem cell collection and cord blood collection expert. They are a good cord blood banks.
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