The results of world's first major study into the use of cord blood transplantation (CBT) to treat secondary acute myeloid leukaemia (sAML), were published in December 2018.

146 patients participated in the test. Of these, 97 were in first leukaemia remission, 30 were in active first relapse of the blood cancer and 19 were suffering from a second relapse.

CBT treatment involves transplanting cord blood stem cells into the patient in the hope of achieving 'engraftment'. Engraftment, as defined by Be the Match  is when the "blood-forming cells you received on transplant day start to grow and make healthy blood cells. It's an important milestone in your transplant recovery."

Of the 146 patients who received CBT, 118 achieved engraftment. As one might expect, engraftment rates were proportionate to the phase of the disease. Patients treated during remission (CR) has an 87% engraftment rate, compared to a 70% rate amongst those suffering actively from the disease.

Two years after CBT,  75% of the patients who had been in remission at the time of treatment were still cancer free. 64% of those with the advanced disease were also well and had not suffered a relapse since the stem cell transfusion.

The authors, who included Dr Eliane Gluckman, a pioneer of cord blood therapies since the first transfusion in 1988, concluded that: in patients suffering from secondary acute myeloid leukaemia, cord blood stem cells "rescued approximately 40% of patients".

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