Expanding Cord Blood Donations from Minority Groups

(May 2, 2011) When African-Americans need cord blood transplants, they have a far smaller chance than Caucasians of finding a donor. The University of Colorado Cord Blood Bank, a component of ClinImmune Labs and the University of Colorado School of Medicine, is trying to change that. The bank has been awarded a $6.3 million federal grant to collect and store umbilical cord blood, with an emphasis on donors from minority groups. Umbilical cord blood is rich in stem cells and can be used to treat patients with blood-related illnesses such as leukemia. "Cord blood transplants now make up one quarter of all bone marrow transplants in this country, compared to less than 2 percent in 2000," says Brian Freed, PhD, professor of medicine and immunology at CU’s medical school and executive director of ClinImmune Labs. "Caucasian patients have a 90 percent chance of finding a well-matched cord blood donor, but African-American patients have only a 50 percent chance."

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