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Using Umbilical Cord Blood for Regenerative Therapy

Successful pre‐clinical studies in animal models heralded the increasing clinical interest of cord blood in regenerative therapy. Controlled clinical trials in patients with cerebral palsy and type I diabetes, amongst other conditions, provided results highlighting that heterogeneity in the cellular product, patients, study design, and the timing of outcome measurements remain as barriers to metanalysis and a clearer understanding of efficacy. Controlled studies of modest size have been reported for a range of additional conditions. The conduct of controlled clinical trials to evaluate potential new uses of cord blood for regenerative therapy remains essential, and consistency in outcome reporting in terms of the instruments used and the time points for assessment after therapy are needed, including longer follow up of study participants. Frequent and careful evaluation of the evidence will allow cord blood banks, health care providers, and patients to assess potential new options in the use of cord blood for regenerative therapy. For more on this subject, see a recent STEM CELLS article from David Allan (Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, University of Ottawa and Canadian Blood Services).