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stem cells

Stem cells history

1988: The first transplantation of stem cells is performed in France in a 5 year old boy that was suffering from Fanconi syndrome (aplastic type anemia and deafness).  Stem cells from the boy’s sister were used that was born for this purpose.  Until today, 20 years after, the boy, an adult today, is healthy.

1991: The University of Cincinnati in United States reported two cases of successful allogeneic transplantation of stem cells from the umbilical cord blood of unrelated histocompatible donors in children with chronic myelogenic leukemia. These transplantations established the treatment of diseases that traditionally have been used grafts from bone marrow with the use of stem cells from the umbilical cord

1992: The first public and private stem cell cryobanks is established in the United States and the first private storage by freezing the stem cells of the umbilical cord of the child one of its founders is performed.

1995: In the medical journal Lancet, Wagner, a great researcher in the field of stem cells transplantations and one of his coworkers reported for the first time an extensive study of the transplantation of stem cells of the umbilical cord in related recipients. The results of the research show that the survival and the successful implantation of the umbilical cord blood grafts are better between relatives, instead of use compatible unrelated donors of bone marrow. Thus stem cells of the umbilical cord blood are considered to have equal importance to the therapeutic applications as the stem cells derived from bone marrow.

1997: The results of another important research are reported, according to which the percentage of survival of leukemia patients that were administered stem cells from related donors were 63%, while from non-related the percentage of survival was only 23%.

1998: The first autologous transplantation of stem cells derived from the umbilical cord blood is performed. (child’s own stem cells were used). The history of the transplantation is as follows:  After the fact that a son of a family from Brazil presented leukemia the parents decided – to their great advantage – to store the stem cells of their next child. The second child eventually presented neuroblastoma, a malignant tumor of the neural system that was treated successfully with the transplantation of his own stem cells that the parents had stored for a possible relapse of the leukemia of the first child.

2001: The first study concerning the transplantation of stem cells of the umbilical cord in adults is published according to which the 90% of the grafts were implanted to the patient. In some cases two units of cord blood have been used.

2003: More that 3000 transplantation of stem cells in a worldwide level have been performed the last two years.

2004: Gesine Koegler and her collaborators announced in the scientific journal, Journal of Experimental Medicine, that the blood of the umbilical cord contains apart from hematopoietic stem cells also pluripotent stem cells, capable to transform into other cells of the human body. This fact gives a new perspective in the research and applications of the umbilical cord and makes the private storage important for the use in regenerative medicine.

2006: The European Union expands the use of stem cells of the umbilical cord blood to the therapy of malignancies and autoimmune diseases. So cord blood can be used as an alternative to bone marrow for these diseases.

Biohellenika is established in Greece, the biggest company of stem cell storage.

2007: The first successful autologous transplantation of cord blood to a child that was suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2003 at the age of 3, and the parents had stored the stem cells in a private bank. Four years after the transplantation (2007), the child is alive and in good health. The stem cells were injected immediately and the danger of rejection was minor, as the stem cells were derived from the child himself.

2008: The results of clinical trials for the applications in even more diseases establish the umbilical cord blood stem cell as an invaluable biologic material. Biohellenika established the method to cryopreserve stem cells from the pulp of deciduous teeth and offers a second chance to the parents and adults to cryopreserve this type of stem cells.

2009: Biohellenika released one graft of umbilical cord blood from its labs that was transferred to USA (Duke University) and was administered to a child with cerebral palsy. This child is participating in a worldwide trial among 160 other children and the results of the treatment are very promising, as were recently announced. A second child with cerebral palsy is going to reinfused with its own umbilical cord blood stem cells that its parents have the foresight to cryopreserve in Biohellenika and will travel to the Duke University. 


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