Growing success

Umbilical cord blood has been used as a source of stem cells for treating a range of diseases since 1988. The use of this source of stem cells is increasing in the last years, especially in pediatric hematopoietic transplants.


In the world

The use of umbilical cord stem cells is already an obvious reality all over the world.

Autologous transplants are more common than allogeneic transplants

Despite the disparity in the number of treatable diseases, the number of transplants performed in Europe shows that autologous transplants with hematopoietic stem cells are more common than allogeneic transplants: 58% autologous vs. 42% allogeneic.
  • The 1st umbilical cord blood transplant was performed in Paris in 1988, between two siblings to treat a case of Fanconi anaemia.
  • Over 40.000 transplants have now been carried out using stem cells from umbilical cord blood, for the treatment of cancers, bone marrow deficiencies, and metabolic diseases, immunodeficiencies, hemoglobinopathies, among other conditions.
    See full list of diseases
  • 80% of transplants were performed in the past 9 years.
  • In 2009, for the first time the number of transplants using umbilical cord blood was higher than the number of bone marrow transplants.
    Find out more
  • According to data from 2011, over 500 European children with blood cancer diseases were treated with umbilical cord blood stem cell transplants from a related donor, with favorable results.

Hematopoietic transplants by stem cells source (Bone Marrow Donor Program – United States)

In pediatric hematopoietic transplants, the use of stem cells from the umbilical cord is increasing in the last years.



In switzerland

Switzerland is among the European countries with the highest transplant rates and umbilical cord blood is one of the sources being used.


Hematopoietic SCT in Europe 2013: recent trends in the use of alternative donors showing more haploidentical donors but fewer cord blood transplants

J R Passweg,1,* H Baldomero,1 P Bader,2 C Bonini,3 S Cesaro,4 P Dreger,5 R F Duarte,6 C Dufour,7 J H F Falkenburg,8 D Farge-Bancel,9 A Gennery,10 N Kröger,11 F Lanza,12 A Nagler,13 A Sureda,6 and M Mohty14, for the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT). Bone Marrow Transplant. 2015 Apr; 50(4): 476–482.

STEMLAB Experience

As an example of allogeneic use, Stemlab released a sample for the treatment of Severe Combined Immunodeficiency of a sibling (between siblings, the probability of a full match is 25%). The treatment was a success and the patient recovered fully.

In the context of autologous use, Stemlab released 7 samples for the treatment of children with cerebral palsy: 6 of them being part of a pilot study of the Duke University, United States, and 1 for an experimental treatment in a Hospital in Madrid, Spain.


Transplants performed

Find out about some of the transplants performed worldwide, using umbilical cord stem cells:

A Spanish child recovers from a malignant brain tumour thanks to a stem cell treatment.

From Cadiz in the Spanish community of Andalusia, Alba started receiving treatment at the Niño Jesus hospital in Madrid at two years of age to fight a medulloblastoma, a rare and highly malignant type of brain tumor. After surgery and chemotherapy, she was given a transplant of stem cells from blood from her umbilical cord to re-establish her immune system.

After the transplant, stem cells migrated to her bone marrow, where they started to produce white and red blood cells and platelets to regenerate the child’s blood system. 14 months later, Alba’s immune system was fully reconstituted, allowing her to live a normal life with just some routine check-ups.

More Information

A 3 year old girl with leukemia completely cured with her stem cells.

In Germany, a 3 year old girl diagnosed with leukemia received a transplant of stem cells from her umbilical cord blood, stored when she was born, after suffering a central nervous system relapse.

About two years after receiving a transplant of her own umbilical cord blood, at 6 years of age the girl was free of the disease.

In their report, the medical team stated that “The decision made by our patient’s parents to store umbilical cord blood may have increased her chances of survival.”
This team also stated that the acute lymphoblastic leukemia suffered by the 3 year old girl is the most common malignant tumor in children.

More Information


Hematopoietic reconstitution in a patient with Fanconi’s anaemia by means of umbilical-cord blood from an HLA-identical sibling. Gluckman et al., N Engl J Med. 1989, Oct 26;321(17):1174-8.- Hemacord approval may foreshadow regulatory creep for HSC therapies. Allison M, 2012, Apr 10;30(4):304.

Family-directed umbilical cord blood banking. Gluckman et al. Haematologica. 2011, 96(11):1700-7;

Umbilical cord blood banking: an update, Butler et al., J Assist Reprod Genet. 2011, 28(8):669-76.

Why cord blood? Rubinstein P, Hum Immunol. 2006, 67(6):398-404. Review.

Cord blood hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Broxmeyer HE, StemBook Cambridge (MA): Harvard Stem Cell Institute; 2010, 2008-.ISSN: 1940-3429

Family-directed umbilical cord blood banking. Gluckman et al.; . 2011, Nov;96(11):1700-7.

Effective treatment of severe steroid-resistant acute graft-versus-host disease with umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Wu et al., Transplantation. 2011 Jun 27;91(12):1412-6.