HOME ABOUT CONTACT AVAILABLE ISSUES SUBSCRIBE MEDIA & ADS
LATEST UPDATES » Vol 22, No 12, December 2018 – The story of WeDoctor - The medical service system for tomorrow       » World's first unmanned clinic in China       » International outcry over world's first gene-edited babies born in China       » More HIV-positive foreigners enter China       » Pain-free childbirth to be promoted in China       » The past, present and future of life science      
SPOTLIGHTS
How Can Cord Blood be Used to Save Lives?
Life-Saving Mission of SCBB: An Interview with Dr. William Hwang

Singapore Cord Blood Bank (SCBB), Singapore’s non-profit public cord blood bank, was officially opened in September 2005 in response to the growing demand for unrelated donor umbilical cord blood transplantation. Haematologists and paediatricians in Singapore identified this need as their patients were unable to find matching stem cell units they needed for blood stem cell transplants.

SCBB strives to provide safe and high quality cord blood units to support transplantation and related research, through the practice of internationally accredited collection techniques processing, banking and distribution of these donated cord blood units. Earning itself the international reputation of a national public cord blood bank with the highest standards, SCBB holds all international accreditations including accreditation by AABB (formerly known as American Association of Blood Banks), College of American Pathologist (CAP) and Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT).

SCBB has facilitated over 180 cord blood transplants for patients in Singapore and 15 other countries. Without this stem cell resource, many of these patients would otherwise succumb to their diseases.

Advantages of Cord Blood

Cord blood is rich in haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which are also found in bone marrow and peripheral blood. Compared to those in bone marrow and peripheral blood, stem cells in cord blood are more ‘naïve’ and can more easily adapt in the patient’s body, lowering the chances of transplant complications for the patient. Hence, the stem cells in cord blood do not require a perfect match between a donor and patient.

Supporting Unrelated Stem Cell Needs of Asian Patients

70% of patients worldwide are unable to find a match within their family. [1] They have to turn to public stem cell registries such as public cord blood banks for suitable matches.

Ethnicity plays an important role when finding a match for patients. With majority of public stem cell registries in the world of Caucasian origin, it is crucial for Asian and multi-ethnic populations such as Singapore to establish public stem cell registries to serve its community.

The profile of SCBB’s public cord blood inventory is reflective of Singapore’s multi-ethnic community. Today, SCBB contributes approximately 35 percent of the Asian Cord Blood Units listed in the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), the world’s largest and most diverse stem cell registry based in America.

1. Under which circumstances is a haematopoietic stem cell transplant not recommended, even when a matched cord blood unit is available?

There are several factors that a transplant physician looks at before recommending a haematopoietic stem cell transplant; whether it is using stem cells from bone marrow, peripheral blood or cord blood. Transplant is not recommended when the transplant physician deems the patient’s body as unsuitable to undergo transplant; e.g. if an organ of the patient is damaged or if the patient is suffering from recurring infections. This increases the risk factor for the patient and puts him/her at a higher risk for transplant complications.

2. Please comment on the changes in transplant protocols and procedures that have helped to improve cord blood transplant outcomes.

The haematopoietic stem cell transplant procedure is similar regardless of the source of stem cell (i.e. bone marrow, cord blood or mobilized peripheral blood) that the patient will be receiving. Once a suitable match is found for the patient, the Transplant Physician will first assess the patient’s health to ensure he/she can go through a transplant. The patient will then undergo a conditioning regimen – chemotherapy and/or radiation – to destroy the patient’s unhealthy cells and prepare the patient’s body to receive the new healthy blood stem cells.

The patient’s immune cells will also be destroyed in this process. Thus, the immune-compromised patient will be isolated in a special Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) room where the environment is controlled.

This will be followed by the transplant. The new healthy stem cells in a blood bag are infused through an intravenous (IV) line, usually through the patient’s Central Venous Catheter (CVC), or central line, into the patient’s body.

The first sign of a successful transplant is when the new stem cells move through the patient’s bloodstream to reach the bone marrow and begin to produce new red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

3. What are the possible developments that you would like to see in the next five years in the field of cord blood transplant & research?

I would like to see the advancement in ex-vivo expansion of haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) so that cord blood units with low cell dose can be used for patients’ transplantation. In addition, I hope to see the development in HSC homing that will provide better ways to improve homing and engraftment of cord blood stem cells in patient’s body; e.g. utilizing intra-bone marrow cord blood injections (intraosseous infusion (IO) instead of the traditional intravenous route)

Reference:

1. https://bethematch.org/for-patients-andfamilies/finding-a-donor/hla-matching/

About the Authors

Dr. William Hwang is the Medical Director of Singapore Cord Blood Bank (SCBB), since March 2004. Concurrently, Dr. Hwang is the Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Haematology at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) as well as the SingHealth Duke-NUS Blood Cancer Centre. He is Associate Professor in the Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program in Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School where he is the Principal Investigator of Haematopoietic Stem Cell Laboratory. He also serves as the Director of SingHealth Transplant and President of the Singapore Society of Haematology.

His major research interest is in Haematopoietic Stem Cells, for which he has published numerous scientific and clinical research papers. His recent interests include the use of mesenchymal stromal cells, NK cells and other derivatives to modulate immune responses and tissue repair.

Click here for the complete issue.

NEWS CRUNCH  
news Asia is the fastest growing region for nutraceuticals
news 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine winners
news Vitafoods Asia expands by 40 per cent in 2018
PR NEWSWIRE  
Asia Pacific Biotech News
EDITORS' CHOICE  
COLUMNS  

APBN Editorial Calendar 2018
January:
Obesity / Outlook for 2018
February:
Searching for the fountain of youth
March:
Women in Science - Making a difference
April:
Digestive health in the 21st century - Trust your guts
May:
Dental health - The root to good health
June:
Cancer - Therapies and strategies for better patient outcomes
July:
Water management - Technologies for biotech and pharmaceutical industries
August:
Regenerative technology - Meat of the future
September:
Doctor Robot - The digital healthcare revolution
October:
Bones / Breast cancer
November:
Liver health / Top science research nations & institutions
December:
AIDS / Breakthrough of the year/Emerging trends
Editorial calendar is subjected to changes.
MAGAZINE TAGS
About Us
Events
Available issues
Editorial Board
Letters to Editor
Instructions to Authors
Advertise with Us
CONTACT
World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd.
5 Toh Tuck Link, Singapore 596224
Tel: 65-6466-5775
Fax: 65-6467-7667
» For Editorial Enquiries:
   biotech_edit@wspc.com or Ms Lim Guan Yu
» For Subscriptions, Advertisements &
   Media Partnerships Enquiries:
   biotech_ad@wspc.com
Copyright© 2018 World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd  •  Privacy Policy