Dr. Donna Wall is the Director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program at SickKids as well as the soon-to-be appointed President of the Canadian Bone Marrow Transplant Group (CBMTG) whose mission it is to make Canada the best place in the world to have a blood and marrow transplant.
In honour of World Bone Marrow Donor Day on September 17th, we asked Dr. Wall to provide us with some insight into the future of stem cell research, and application, in Canada.
The Limitless Potential of Umbilical Cord Blood
Having witnessed the inspiring results of patients she treated 10-15 years ago, whose medical struggles lie far behind them, due in large part to the availability of cord blood treatment, Dr. Wall continues to believe in the incredible potential of stem cells found in umbilical cord blood.
At present, cord blood is routinely used to treat cancers of the bone marrow such as leukemia and lymphoma (a timely fact given that next month is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month) as well as inherited diseases like sickle cell anemia and thalassemia, among many. In fact, cord blood is currently used to treat over 80 diseases, but there’s no way to know what uses for cord blood will be revealed in years to come, and the possibilities are endless.
Up and Coming! Cord Tissue and Mesenchymal Stem Cells
While the life-saving properties found within umbilical cord blood is now widely known to medical professionals and the public at large, cord tissue is relatively new on the scene and arrives with the potential to treat an entirely new list of injuries and ailments.
At present, the mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) found in umbilical cord tissue are being evaluated in numerous clinical trials for treatment of arthritis, diabetes, wound care and spinal cord injury. According to Dr. Wall, the fact that MSCs are now being tested in advanced clinical trials illustrates the potential of these cells. Years of research are now moving towards clinical practice, an exciting step for Dr. Wall and her colleagues in the industry.
“We’re involved with the team in Ottawa with a trial of mesenchymal cells for treatment of multiple sclerosis. There’s an exciting trial in Toronto looking at treatment of joints—the repair of joints—and then we have a trial in development, in collaboration, with Héma Québec and looking at MSCs for the treatment of graft versus host diseases. It’s very satisfying to see that the early phase research is now finally moving into the clinical sphere.”
Canada well positioned to be future leader in blood and marrow transplant
Judging by the quality of the clinical care teams – including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, cell therapy specialists and a range of other professionals who play a role in the transplant process – Canada, in Dr. Wall’s opinion, is well on its way to becoming experts in blood and marrow transplants.
As a founding member of the Cord Blood Association and one of two Canadian Family Cord Blood banks to receive both FACT and AABB accreditations, we couldn’t agree more. As new uses for both cord blood and cord tissue emerge, we welcome the opportunity to grow while remaining Canada’s most trusted source for cord storage. Tour our website to learn more about the advantages to banking your baby’s cord blood and tissue with Cells for Life. Don’t wait. Insure your family’s future, today.