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Adult Stem Cells Cure Italian Boy of Potentially Lethal Anemia

By Reuters September 6, 2004



ROME (Reuters) - An Italian boy has been cured of a potentially lethal form of anemia by a new type of stem-cell therapy, using cells from the placenta of both of his recently born twin brothers, the health ministry said on Monday.

The five-year-old boy suffered from Thalassemia, a genetic disorder which stops the body producing enough hemoglobin, the substance in the blood which carries oxygen around the body.

The innovation of this operation was that it used two different batches of placenta blood from each of the brothers.

One batch of blood was rich in stem cells -- basic cells that can grow into a variety of different cells. The other had been altered in vitro to combat the disease.

Thalassemia patients are usually treated by regular blood transfusions and regulation of their blood-iron levels.

The operation carried out at San Matteo clinic in Pavia, northern Italy, is an alternative to the usual cure -- a bone marrow transplant which is often complicated by the need to find a compatible donor.

© Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.

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