The first transplant of cord blood from Biocyte Corp.'s Cord BloodStem Cell Storage Services took place in an operation performed lastweek at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pa.The operation involved the use of blood collected from the placentaand umbilical cord (cord blood) of a newborn that was cryopreservedand stored by Biocyte. The blood was then transplanted into thedonor's four-year old sister who is affected by aplastic anemia, adisease that can be fatal.According to Kenneth Moch, president and chief executive officer ofthe Stamford, Conn. company, cord blood transplantation has beenused in some 40 procedures around the world. The Pittsburghtransplant, however, marked the first time the procedure has been doneusing cord blood cells collected, cryopreserved and stored by Biocyte'ssystem. The company holds patents on its cryopreserved neonatal stemcells and on therapeutic uses of these cells.Because cord blood is richer in stem cells than bone marrow, cordblood cell transplants have been used as an alternative to bone marrowtransplants. Moch said Biocyte is also exploring development of a cordblood stem cell library to make cord blood stem cell transplantspossible for unrelated individuals. "We are having active discussionsabout this with other organizations," Moch said.Cord blood cells are derived from a baby's umbilical cord and mother'splacenta in a non-invasive procedure in the first few minutes after birth.The company entered an agreement with Pittsburgh's Magee-Women'sHospital in November last year regarding the collection of thesematerials. Moch said Biocyte hopes to have agreements with otherhospitals in place by the end of the year.

-- Philippa Maister

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