Umbilical cord blood has officially cured a little girl of leukemia. In 2005, a four-year-old girl in Germany received an infusion of stem cells from umbilical cord blood after her chemotherapy treatment failed. The girl, who had a projected three months to live, has now been cancer-free for five years.
“Seventy-five months have passed and we can speak of a cure with certainty,” said Dr. Eberhard Lampeter, CEO of VITA 34, the leading umbilical cord blood bank in Europe.
This is very significant news because it is the first case in the world of a child cured of leukemia with their own stem cells. The procedure was possible because the girl’s parents saved their child’s umbilical cord blood at birth. Usually, a child’s cord blood is not available and the stem cells of close family members are used.
This successful treatment is the latest in a long line of successes using adult stem cells and not embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cell treatments have yet to be proven effective in any medical treatment; however, they receive the most research money. Dr. Colin McGuckin, an expert on stem cell biology, tissue engineering, transplantation sciences and cancer treatment, knows the problem of funding all too well.
“People aren’t talking about cord blood because it’s not controversial,” he said. “Consequently, it does not make headlines and therefore researchers who want to use the cells from cord blood do not receive funding. It is the cult of celebrity, and even if you make liver cells, you’re only a celebrity for ten minutes, then they’re giving [funding]to the next person.”
To solve the problem, Dr. McGuckin has a suggestion: “People have to write in. They have to raise their voices. It’s no good saying ‘I don’t like embryonic stem cell research’ if you don’t have something alternative to offer. Negativity never wins anything.”
We must focus on other avenues of treatment that do not destroy human life. For more information about umbilical cord blood, please visit http://www.corcell.com/.