In the world oncohematology, umbilical cord blood has long been officially recognized as equivalent to bone marrow as a source of hematopoietic stem cells for transplantation. In total, more than 5,000 hematopoietic stem cell transplants are performed annually worldwide, mainly for the treatment of leukemias, primary immunodeficiencies, etc. In about every fifth case, cord blood is used instead of bone marrow.
In Ukraine, approximately 1,000 patients each year need a hematopoietic stem cell transplant, close relatives may be matching for 200-300 of them, and 100-200 patients need only a non-related transplant.
Non-related transplant of hematopoietic stem cells is only available to Ukrainians abroad, and costs 100,000-200,000 USD. The main reason was that Ukraine was not included in the international registers of hematopoietic stem cell donors, as well as the procedure for the use of donor cord blood samples in oncohematology was not approved.
And now the government approves a life-changing decision for thousands of Ukrainian patients – the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine adopted a resolution initiated by the Ministry of Health, which approves the procedure for receiving and providing stem cells for transplantation. This governmental decision will make it possible to seek a bone marrow donor, as well as establishes requirements for the selection of donor cord blood samples in Ukraine.
As reported by the World Marrow Donors Association, the use of umbilical cord blood in oncohematology is particularly relevant now during the COVID-19 pandemic, since frozen cord blood samples are immediately ready for use and the epidemic situation may not allow proper testing of bone marrow donors or bone marrow processing.
The first and only ISO-accredited Cryobank of Ukraine, successfully operating at the Institute of Cell Therapy since 2003, provides services of long-term personal storage of cord blood, umbilical cord and placenta. Since 2008, the Institute of Cell Therapy has been providing cryopreserved donor stem cells to state medical institutions of Ukraine within the framework of clinical trials approved by the Coordination Center for Transplantation of Organs, Tissues and Cells of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.
Many years of successful stem cell processing experience and participation in clinical trials enable the Institute of Cell Therapy to become the basis for the National Cord Blood Bank. The Institute of Cell Therapy is launching a public biobank project and is applying to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine with this initiative.