The outcome of the study done at University of Minnesota on treatment of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) / Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) reveals that umbilical cord blood transplant is as effective in older patients over 70 years as in younger patients.

The study retrospectively investigated the outcomes of umbilical cord blood transplantation  in patients aged > 70 years with MDS & AML between the year 2010 & 2014. MDS is a condition that affects the normal production of blood cells in the bone marrow.  The patients with this condition may feel fatigued, prone to infections and get bruised easily. In 30% of the cases MDS turns into AML a progressive form of cancer. In patients over 60 years, MDS occurs in 50 per 1 Lakh populace. Thus, it is one of the most common haematological disorders in the elderly.

The maximum age of the patient receiving allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplant is growing day by day. However, there is still a paucity of matching stem cell units available for a patient. To offer a solution to the prevalent challenges in the treatment of elderly, this study was conducted to find the efficacy of umbilical cord blood stem cells on these conditions. The study was done on 70 patients, who were referred for allogeneic stem cell transplant consideration.

The outcomes revealed that the cumulative incidences of non-relapse mortality rate & relapse rate to be 20% & 30% in patients treated with umbilical cord blood transplants. The overall survival & disease free survival rate scaled up to 60% & 50% after 2 years respectively, showing good progress.

The best thing about the outcome was that the results were very similar to the positive outcomes witnessed in younger patients. The study also showed that the outcome of umbilical cord stem cells to be similar to that seen in all forms of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplants.Thus, the study proved umbilical cord blood transplant to be feasible in treatment of patients with MDS/AML above the age of 70. Another promising evidence inferred was that the usage of umbilical cord blood transplant can shorten the time required for unrelated donor search. It also paved way to analyse the feasibility of allogeneic(donor) transplants in such conditions for the elderly.

Now with the advent of community stem cell banking and its huge pool of cord blood units, the promising outcomes of umbilical cord blood transplant in such cancers is really a boon to the elderly. Community banking also surges the advantage by shortening the time required to search for a matching donor due to the immediate availability of such cord blood units in the community pool. This module of banking can also increase the chance of finding matching donor stem cell as it diminishes the ethnic barrier.

Thus, community stem cell banking is all set to offer a complete protection for the elders at home against such conditions. If every expectant parent in India makes a wise decision of preserving the umbilical cord blood stem cells of their baby, it can indeed be a lifeline not just for the baby but also for the elders at home. This simple action that an expectant parent takes can shield the parents who are highly susceptible to such progressive haematological conditions by offering hope which will not be found otherwise.