What if treating extremely preterm babies with their own (i.e., autologous) cord blood stem cells could reduce their increased risk of brain damage and related conditions?
Using a patient’s own cord blood stem cells to treat neurological conditions, like cerebral palsy, has shown positive safety outcomes in clinical trials.1,2 However, the research to date has largely focused on full-term infants.
Cell Care™, the Australian sister company of Cells for Life, is helping to change that with its support of the world’s first research study investigating whether it is possible to collect sufficient cord blood for cryopreservation from babies who were born at less than 28 weeks (about 6 and a half months).
An important first step
Thirty-eight extremely preterm infants participated in the recently completed study conducted by Monash Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Cell Care provided participating families with cord blood preservation and storage at no cost through a special medical needs program similar to the Cerebral Palsy Sibling Cord Blood Collection Program offered by Cells for Life.3
Findings from the study are encouraging. Approximately 70% of the attempted cord blood collections were successful and contained cell doses that were adequate for potential future stem cell infusions. The average volume of cells collected from the preterm patients was comparable to the volume-per-weight collected for babies born at term.3,4
This is an important first step towards improving the potential treatment options available for extremely preterm babies. Between 70% to 80% of premature babies have poor neurodevelopmental outcomes.5
Still more troubling is the fact that preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death in children under the age of five. Globally about 13 million babies – up to one in 10 – are born preterm each year.6
As a follow-up to this study, researchers in Australia are conducting an ongoing study called CORD-SAFE, aimed at assessing the safety of umbilical cord blood infusions for extremely preterm babies. The results of this study will likely be published by the end of 2023.7
Helping further research
Cells for Life is proud of Cell Care’s involvement in this study, and their leadership in the development of a specialized umbilical cord blood collection, processing, and storage program tailored specifically to the extremely preterm population in this clinical trial.
Expecting a child, or have friends or family who are? How about a grandchild? Enroll with Cells for Life today or refer a friend. When someone you refer preserves with us, you’ll receive a cheque or storage credit to fund your storage fees.*
1. Sun, J et al. (2015) Repeated Autologous Umbilical Cord Blood Infusions are Feasible and had No Acute Safety Issues in Young Babies with Congenital Hydrocephalus. Pediatr Res. Dec;78(6):712-6.2. Sun, J. et. al. (2017). Effect of Autologous Cord Blood Infusion on Motor Function and Brain Connectivity in Young Children with Cerebral Palsy: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Stem Cells Transl Med. Oct 28.3. Zhou L, McDonald CA, Yawno T, Penny T, Miller SL, Jenkin G, Malhotra A. Feasibility of cord blood collection for autologous cell therapy applications in extremely preterm infants. Cytotherapy. 2023 May;25(5):458-462. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2023.01.001. Epub 2023 Feb 4. PMID: 36740465.4. “Using stem cells to prevent brain damage in very preterm babies,” Monash University, March 21, 2023. https://www.monash.edu/medicine/news/latest/2023-articles/using-stem-cells-to-prevent-brain-damage-in-very-preterm-babies.5. Digitale, E., “New research links brain injury from low oxygen to specific cells,: Stanford Medicine, May 6, 2016, https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2019/05/research-links-brain-injury-from-low-oxygen-to-specific-cells.html.6. “Preterm birth,” World Health Organization, May 10, 2023, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/preterm-birth.7. Malhotra et al. (2020). Autologous Umbilical Cord Blood-Derived Cell Administration in Extreme Preterm Infants: protocol for a safety and feasibility study. Stem Cells Translational Medicine. May 11;10(5).
*Refer-a-Friend Program: See website for referral terms and conditions.