The Biology Project: Immunology

Introduction to Immunology

Problem 2. Cord blood transplants

Expectant parents now have the option to save their baby's "cord blood" (blood from the umbilical cord) immediately following birth. This cord blood can be transplanted into individuals whose blood has been damaged by diseases such as leukemia, Hodgkin's lymphoma, and sickle cell anemia. Saved cord blood is a perfect match for the baby it came from, and can also be useful in treating relatives of the baby. What cells should be harvested from the cord blood to best treat patients with blood diseases?

A. Erythrocytes (red blood cells)
B. Leukocytes (granulocytes, monocytes and lymphocytes)

Stem cells

Although erythrocytes and leukocytes might be helpful in the short term, it makes more sense to harvest and implant stem cells that can create new erythrocytes and leukocytes. Another way to think of this--would you rather have a golden egg, or a goose that lays them?


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