Pioneers & Milestones in Cord Blood History

October 1988
Matthew Farrow in July 2013
Matthew Farrow, then a 5 year old boy with Fanconi anemia, received the world's first cord blood transplant. The pioneering medical event was an international effort: Matthew came from North Carolina USA, his donor was his newborn baby sister, the American scientist who stored the cord blood was Dr. Hal Broxmeyer, and the transplant was performed at the Hôpital Saint-Louis in Paris, where his French physician was Dr. Eliane Gluckman. Matt is now 30 years old, married, and a father. ref1, ref2
May 1989
Dr. Edward A. Boyse
A team led by Dr. Edward A. Boyse, including Dr. Hal Broxmeyer, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that it was feasible to collect umbilical cord blood from birth, ship it to a lab, and cryopreserve it for later therapy. Dr. Boyce was a pioneer in immunology. ref1, ref2
September 1989
Natalie Curry (in memoriam 8/30/2012)
Natalie Curry also received one of the very first cord blood transplants with Dr. Gluckman, and went on to become a vocal advocate for cord blood education. Natalie's sister Emily was her cord blood donor, and later when Emily turned age 18 she also donated a kidney to Natalie. ref
January 1992
Dr. Pablo Rubinstein in 2005
Dr. Pablo Rubinstein spearheaded the founding of the world's largest public cord blood bank. Dr. Rubinstein is also credited with pioneering methods of cord blood collection and storage that became industry standards. The NY Blood Center currently holds almost 60,000 cord blood donations. ref1, ref2
1993
Mitch Santa (image courtesy NYBC)
Mitch Santa became the first person to receive a cord blood transplant from an unrelated donor when he was less than 2 years old. He was cured of acute leukemia thanks to an anonymous baby whose cord blood had been donated to the NY Blood Center in its first year of operation. Dr. Kurtzberg performed the transplant at Duke Medical Center. ref1 ref2
February 1995
Dr. Mary Laughlin
Dr. Mary Laughlin performed the world's first cord blood transplant for an adult leukemia patient. She was then at Duke Medical Center, but went on to found transplant programs at the Cleveland Cord Blood Center and the University of Virginia. ref
August 1996
Dr. Mitchell Cairo
Dr. Mitchell Cairo and Dr. John Wagner led the first demonstration that long term patient survival is comparable with cord blood transplants and bone marrow transplants. Numerous researchers have reinforced this conclusion over the years, both for children and adult patients. Dr. Cairo now heads the stem cell transplant program for the children's hospital at Westchester Medical Center. ref1, ref2
November 1997
Stephen Sprague
Stephen Sprague was the first adult to receive an "expanded" cord blood transplant where the cells were first grown in the lab before infusion. He was treated for CML leukemia in blast crisis by Dr. Andrew Pecora at the Hackensack Medical Center. ref
June 1998
Frances and Shai Verter, Sept. 1994
Dr. Frances Verter founded the Parent's Guide to Cord Blood website in memory of her daughter Shai. PGCB
December 1998
Keone Penn (in memoriam 6/20/2013)
Keone Penn was the first person cured of sickle cell disease by a cord blood transplant. As a child, he had endured a stroke and frequent episodes of pain before the transplant at Egleston Children's Hospital in Atlanta. Dr. Andrew Yaeger found a matching cord blood donor for Keone in the NY Blood Center public bank. ref
April 2001
Jesse Farquharson
Shortly after he was born, Jesse was diagnosed with eye cancer that had invaded both eyes and his spinal fluid. His treatment at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, culminated with the infusion of his own cord blood that had been stored with Insception Lifebank. Jesse was one of the first children who were saved because their parents had banked their cord blood privately. ref
September 2002
Dr. John Wagner
Dr. John Wagner published a key study in the journal Blood that analyzed the influence of stem cell dose and degree of donor-patient match on the outcome of cord blood transplants. There have been many subsequent papers analyzing this topic. ref
April 2004
Andrej of Slovakia
Andrej was 6 months old when he became the first child to receive a transplant of his own cord blood to cure a malignant brain tumor called medulloblastoma. His cord blood had been stored with Eurocord-Slovakia, a partner of Cord Blood Center. The treatment took place at the University Children's Hospital in Bratislavia, Slovakia. PGCB
August 2004
Dr. Ammar Hayani
Dr. Ammar Hayani, together with colleagues at the Mayo Clinic, was the first to report using a child's own cord blood to perform a transplant for acute leukemia. Their publication in the journal Pediatrics explains that they tested the cord blood to make sure it did not contain the genetic mutations that were in the leukemia cells. The 3 year old girl's cord blood had been stored in the bank CorCell (now owned by CBAI), and the transplant took place at Advocate Hope Children's Hospital. ref
February 2005
Dr. Juliet Barker
Dr. Juliet Barker is the leading expert on the use of double cord transplants to treat adults. Her first publication on this approach appeared in Blood, when she was at the University of Minnesota, and she has continued to push this frontier as director of the cord blood transplantation program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. ref
February 2005
Abby Pell (image courtesy of CBR)
Abby Pell was the first child to receive her own cord blood stem cells as experimental therapy for brain injury due to oxygen deprivation at birth. Abby's mother had been turned away by doctors at multiple hospitals before Dr. Kurtzberg agreed to try the procedure at Duke Medical Center. ref
May 2005
Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg
Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg and colleagues published the first paper demonstrating that cord blood transplants can stop the neurologic damage from metabolic storage disorders, by helping patients to create the metabolic enzymes they lack. Their initial work was with patients who had Krabbe's disease and appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine. Her group went on to treat dozens of other rare metabolic disorders. ref
October 2005
Mary and Ryan Schneider Dec. 2007
Ryan Schneider was the first child diagnosed with cerebral palsy to be treated with his own cord blood that was privately banked. His cord blood had been stored with Cord Blood Registry and he was treated by Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg at Duke Medical Center. ref
October 2007
Jake Liao
Nate Liao was the first child to receive a stem cell transplant from a sibling as therapy for a rare and fatal skin disorder called epidermolysis bullosa, or EB. Pictured is his brother Jake, who received the 3rd transplant for EB. The discovery that cord blood transplants could teach the body to produce missing skin proteins was made at the University of Minnesota, by a team led by Dr. John Wagner and Dr. Jakub Tolar. ref1, ref2
March 2008
Dr. J.J. Nietfeld 2012
Dr. J.J. Nietfeld, together with Dr. Verter and a team from CIBMTR, published an analysis of U.S. stem cell transplant statistics in the journal Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. Over the course of a 70 year lifetime, more than 1 in 200 Americans has a stem cell transplant. ref
October 2009
Dr. Vanderson Rocha
Dr. Vanderson Rocha and Dr. Eliane Gluckman, on behalf of the European Blood and Marrow Transplant group, published in the British Journal of Haematology that 20,000 cord blood transplants had been performed to date around the world. ref
January 2010
Dr. Hal Broxmeyer
Dr. Hal Broxmeyer, the scientist who invented our standard protocols for banking cord blood, stated in the journal Cell Stem Cell that his lab has thawed cord blood that was cryopreserved more than 23 years and found the recovery of viable stem cells undimished by time. ref
January 2010
Dr. Colleen Delaney
Dr. Colleen Delaney and colleagues at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have found a new way to grow cord blood stem cells in the lab to expand the cell count before transplant. They use an engineered protein to activate a cell signaling pathway that triggers growth. Their first clinical trial, published in Nature Medicine, followed a decade of laboratory work. They achieved a 164-fold expansion of the stem cells and were able to reconstitute patient immune systems in two weeks. ref1, ref2
September 2010
Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg
Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg and and colleagues published a paper in the journal Transfusion describing the treatments given to the first 184 children who received their own cord blood at Duke Medical Center as therapy for acquired neurological disorders. These patients had diagnoses including cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, oxygen deprivation at birth, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, stroke, etc. ref
March 2011
Dr. Charles S. Cox Jr.
Dr. Charles S. Cox Jr. and colleagues published in the journal Neurosurgery that giving children their own stem cells showed promise as a treatment for traumatic brain injury, the leading cause of death in children. Dr. Cox is a neurosurgeon who directs the pediatric trauma program at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. He is currently heading a clinical trial in which children with traumatic brain injury receive their own cord blood. ref1, ref2
November 2011
Dr. Eliane Gluckman INSERM Prix d'Honneur 2010
Ever since she performed the first cord blood transplant in 1988, Dr. Eliane Gluckman has led studies that compared the outcome of cord blood transplants with related versus unrelated donors, always finding that related are better. The first publication in NEJM in 1997 found survival was more than double with related donors. Unrelated transplants have improved over time, but a publication in Haematologica in 2011 still found survival 1.5 times better with sibling donors. ref
August 2012
Dr. Chez and a patient
Dr. Michael Chez, director of pediatric neurology at the Sutter Neuroscience Institute in Sacramento, launched the first clinical trial to treat children who have autism with their own cord blood. According to the CDC, 1 in 88 U.S. children are on the spectrum of autism related disorders. ref1, ref2
December 2012
Dr. Elizabeth Shpall
Dr. Elizabeth Shpall and colleagues at the MD Anderson Cancer Center published in the New England Journal of Medicine that they can expand cord blood stem cells 30-fold simply by immersing them in an environment that mimics the bone marrow inside a human body, including the presence of other types of stem cells. In their clinical trial they were able to reconstitute patient immune systems in two weeks. ref1, ref2
December 2012
map and flag of South Korea
The first proof that cord blood is effective in the treatment of cerebral palsy. Results from a placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial were published in the journal Stem Cells. The trial was conducted at CHA Bundang Medical Center in South Korea under the leadership of Dr. MinYoung Kim. ref
December 2012
Parent's Guide to Cord Blood logo
Parent's Guide to Cord Blood reported that by the end of 2012, family banks around the world had released over 900 cord blood collections for therapy. Overall, roughly half went to sibling transplants and half were used by the child from which the blood was banked. PGCB
January 2013
Dr. Maria Craig
Dr. Maria Craig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the children's hospital in Sydney Australia, launched the world's first trial that attempts to use a child's own cord blood to prevent type 1 diabetes. A previous study started in 2007 by Dr. Michael Haller at the University of Florida showed that diabetic children who received their own cord blood needed less insulin, but only temporarily. It is hoped that the new study will intervene early enough to stop the auto-immune process that leads to type 1 diabetes. ref
April 2013
Dr. John Wagner
Dr. John Wagner performed the world's first cord blood transplant of a child who had both leukemia and HIV. The goal was to cure both by transplanting cord blood from a donor who carries a rare genetic mutation that confers resistance to HIV. Dr. Wagner heads the University of Minnesota's transplant program. ref1, ref2
May 2013
Parent's Guide to Cord Blood logo
Parent's Guide to Cord Blood reported at the 2013 ISCT meeting: The world inventory of cord blood in storage is now about 650 thousand in public banks and 2.5 million in family banks. PGCB
June 2013
Timothy J. Nelson, MD PhD
Dr. Timothy Nelson of the Mayo Clinic's Center for Regenerative Medicine will lead a clinical trial that gives children their own cord blood in conjunction with surgery to correct a serious heart defect. Every 15 minutes, a child in the U.S. is born with a congenital heart defect; they are the most common type of birth defect. ref
July 2013
Dr. Karen K. Ballen
Dr. Karen Ballen, clinical director of the leukemia program at Massachusetts General Hospital, together with Dr. Gluckman and Dr. Broxmeyer, published a review of the first 25 years of cord blood transplantation in the journal Blood. To date, more than 30,000 cord blood transplants have been performed around the world. ref