A University of Colorado Cancer Center study compared outcomes of leukemia patients receiving bone marrow transplants from 2009-2014, finding that three years post transplant, the incidence of severe chronic graft-versus-host disease was 44 percent in patients who had received transplants from matched, unrelated donors (MUD) and 8 percent in patients who had received umbilical cord blood transplants (CBT). Patients who received CBT were also more likely to no longer need immunosuppression and less likely to experience late infections and hospitalizations. There was no difference in overall survival between these two techniques. Results are published in the journal Bone Marrow Transplant.
“When you do an allogeneic transplant – when someone else is the donor – the new blood system has the potential to attack the patient. This is graft-versus-host disease, which can be debilitating and even fatal. Our results show that, long term, receiving a cord blood transplant is less likely than receiving a transplant from an unrelated, matched donor to result in graft-versus-host disease,” says Jonathan Gutman, MD, investigator at the CU Cancer Center and Clinical Director of Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation at University of Colorado Hospital.