Cord blood stem cells used to help cure girl of brain cancer in Spain

.- A four-year-old girl has become the first patient in Spain to recover from brain cancer after being treated with stem cells from her own umbilical cord blood.

The announcement of the girl's recovery came March 7 from the company Crio-Cord, a stem cell bank in Spain.

Alba was born healthy in 2007, but at age two she was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. Her treatment consisted of extracting the majority of the tumor from her brain. She was then given chemotherapy to reduce and eventually eliminate the remainder of the tumor.

Alba's blood system was destroyed during the final round of chemo, thus requiring a transplant of cord blood stem cells.

The procedure was carried out in 2009 by Dr. Luis Madero of the Department of Oncology and Hematology at the Nino Jesus Hospital in Madrid.

Today, four year-old Alba is a healthy girl.

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Sixty days after the transplant, Alba was given new stem cells taken from her peripheral blood in order to accelerate the production of platelets. Fourteen months after the transplant, her blood system was completely restored, and she has since enjoyed a normal life.

Dr. Madero called her case unique in Spain. “The use of stem cells to regenerate the blood system is an extended treatment for this form of cancer,” he said. What makes her case unique, he added, “is that for the first time in our country, the stem cells came from a patient’s own umbilical cord, preserved from birth.”

“In recent years, transplants of cord blood stem cells have become increasingly common. In the case of siblings, these stem cells are the best therapeutic option that exists,” he said.

“Our best investment”

Alba’s father, Santiago, who is a computer engineer, and her mother, Teresa, a literature professor, agreed that keeping the blood from Alba’s umbilical cord was the “best investment” they ever made. 

Santiago said he had previously seen a report “on the treatment for Parkinson’s using stem cells … and was sympathetic to the idea of using stem cells to treat degenerative diseases.”
 
“Keeping the umbilical cord is a wager for the future, a life insurance policy that you don’t know if you will need but that could save a life,” Teresa added.

The head of Crio-Cord, Guillermo Munoz, also said he was pleased at the results of the therapy. He noted that the organization was “proud to have participated in Alba’s healing process.”

Cases like these confirm “that umbilical cord blood is an excellent source of stem cells. Being the youngest cells of their kind in the human body, they have great potential to cure,” Munoz explained.

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