ABSTRACT: Although hematopoietic stem cell transplantation has curative potential for selected patients with sickle cell disease (SCD), most patients who are eligible for transplantation do not have a suitable donor. Cord blood (CB) from a sibling could provide an alternative stem cell source that, while not as well established as marrow, may offer certain advantages for selected families. These potential advantages include low risk to the infant donor, the possibility that mismatched CB units from sibling donors may be acceptable for transplantation, prompt availability of a stored CB unit for transplant, and decreased risk of clinically significant graft-versus-host disease. When families with SCD (or other transplant-treatable condition) conceive a sibling, no comprehensive research resource exists to assist the family in collecting the new infant's CB. With support from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, we are developing a noncommercial research-based CB Banking Program specifically for medically indicated sibling donations. In preliminary experience, we have collected CB from 52 SCD families across 19 states. Of these, 2 CB units have thus far been used for transplantation and 9 others are HLA-identical. We conclude that a CB bank focusing on sibling-donations may be feasible, but further study is required to determine whether such a bank can collect CB units of sufficient quantity and quality to support controlled trials of sibling CB transplantation. Families with a specific medical need, such as those already caring for a child with SCD, should consider collecting sibling CB as part of comprehensive care if the opportunity becomes available.
Pediatric Pathology and Molecular Medicine 20(2):167-74.