|MP 7.01.50||Placental/Umbilical Cord Blood as a Source of Stem Cells|
|Original Policy Date
|Last Review Status/Date
Reviewed with literature search/10:2012
|Return to Medical Policy Index|
Our medical policies are designed for informational purposes only and are not an authorization, or an explanation of benefits, or a contract. Receipt of benefits is subject to satisfaction of all terms and conditions of the coverage. Medical technology is constantly changing, and we reserve the right to review and update our policies periodically.
This policy addresses the collection, storage, and transplantation of placental/umbilical cord blood (“cord blood”) as a source of stem cells for allogeneic and autologous stem-cell transplantation. Potential indications for use of cord blood are included in the disease-specific reference policies.
A variety of malignant diseases and nonmalignant bone marrow disorders are treated with myeloablative therapy followed by infusion of allogeneic stem and progenitor cells collected from immunologically compatible donors, either from family members or an unrelated donor identified through a bone marrow donor bank. In some cases, a suitable donor is not found.
Blood harvested from the umbilical cord and placenta shortly after delivery of neonates contains stem and progenitor cells capable of restoring hematopoietic function after myeloablation. This “cord” blood has been used as an alternative source of allogeneic stem cells. Cord blood is readily available and is thought to be antigenically “naive,” thus hopefully minimizing the incidence of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and permitting the broader use of unrelated cord blood transplants. Unrelated donors are typically typed at low resolution for human leukocyte antigens (HLA) -A and -B and at high resolution only for HLA-DR; HLA matching at 4 of 6 loci is considered acceptable. Under this matching protocol, an acceptable donor can be identified for almost any patient. (1) Several cord blood banks have now been developed in Europe and in the U.S.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires licensing of establishments and their products for unrelated-donor allogeneic transplant of minimally manipulated placental and umbilical cord blood stem cells. Facilities that prepare cord blood units only for autologous or related-donor transplants are required to register and list their products, adhere to Good Tissue Practices issued by the FDA, and use applicable processes for donor suitability determination. (2)
Other cord blood banks are offering the opportunity of collecting and storing a neonate’s cord blood for some unspecified future use in the unlikely event that the child develops a condition that would require autologous transplantation. In addition, some cord blood is collected and stored from a neonate for use by a sibling in whom an allogeneic transplant is anticipated due to a history of leukemia or other condition requiring allogeneic transplant.
As with any biologic product, there are issues unique to cord blood as an unrelated donor source; some of these are as follows:
- Cell dose available is much closer to the minimum needed for engraftment
- Interbank variability in the quantification of hematopoietic potential
- Donors who may have hematologic/immunologic disorders may not have manifested their disease at the time of donation or follow-up
- Units may have been banked years earlier at a time when the collection and storage process may not have reflected current accreditation standards, and,
- The initial product characterization at the end of processing may not reflect the product at the time of release due to freeze, storage, or transport insults. (3)
For the reasons cited above, instituting international standards and accreditation for cord blood banks is critical. This will assist transplant programs in knowing whether individual banks have important quality control measures in place to address such issues as monitoring cell loss, change in potency, and prevention of product mix-up. (3) Two major organizations are working toward these accreditation standards; NetCord/FACT and the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). NetCord, Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) has developed and implemented a program of voluntary inspection and accreditation for cord blood banking. The program includes standards for collection, testing, processing, storage, and release of cord blood products. Forty-two banks have applied for accreditation, 21 are fully accredited while the rest are in process. AABB also runs an accreditation process, in which an AABB representative inspects the program. Twenty-seven banks in the U.S. have been accredited, along with 33 international sites. (3)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration intends to regulate cord blood banking by requiring Biologic License Applications and/or Investigational New Drug applications by October 2011 for any bank that will supply units to patients in the United States. With the international exchange of cord blood units being integral to the availability of a matched unit, it is unclear how this change will affect the practice of acquiring cord blood units. (4)
It is also important to note umbilical cord blood (UCB) samples are not routinely typed for private banking. This makes it difficult to search for unrelated human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-matched donors in private banks, or to transfer units into a public bank from a private bank. (5)
Transplantation of cord blood stem cells from related or unrelated donors may be considered medically necessary in patients with an appropriate indication for allogeneic stem-cell transplant.
Transplantation of cord blood stem cells from related or unrelated donors is considered investigational in all other situations.
Collection and storage of cord blood from a neonate may be considered medically necessary when an allogeneic transplant is imminent in an identified recipient with a diagnosis that is consistent with the possible need for allogeneic transplant.
Prophylactic collection and storage of cord blood from a neonate is considered not medically necessary when proposed for some unspecified future use as an autologous stem-cell transplant in the original donor, or for some unspecified future use as an allogeneic stem-cell transplant in a related or unrelated donor.
Please refer to the reference policies for specific conditions/diseases that have patient selection criteria regarding situations for which allogeneic stem-cell transplantation may be considered medically necessary.
Through the National Marrow Donor Program’s Related Donor Cord Blood Program, eligible families within the U.S. can collect and store their neonate’s cord blood unit free of charge. When the stored unit is transplanted, a fee is charged. A family is considered eligible if:
the sibling of the neonate has been diagnosed with a disease treatable by a related cord blood transplantH;
the neonate does not have the same disease as the affected biological sibling (determined after birth);
the affected sibling and the neonate have the same biological parents;
an affected biological parent is enrolled in a clinical or research trial that would accept a haploidentical, related, allogeneic cord blood unit as a treatment option.
This policy was originally based on TEC Assessments in 1996 and 2001, (6, 7) which focused on the use of placental/umbilical cord blood in children and adults, respectively. The most recent update via MEDLINE was through September 2012.
Currently, more than 400,000 units of banked cord blood are stored in more than 100 unrelated-donor banks. Umbilical cord blood can be from a related or unrelated donor. More than 20,000 unrelated umbilical cord blood transplants have been performed worldwide. (8)
Related Cord Blood Transplant
The first cord blood transplant was a related cord blood transplant for a child with Fanconi’s anemia.(9) After the success of this initial transplant, approximately 60 others were performed in the matched-sibling setting. The results, demonstrating that cord blood contained sufficient numbers of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells to reconstitute a pediatric patient, were reported to a volunteer international registry. A lower incidence of acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) when cord blood, as compared with bone marrow, was used as the source of donor cells was also observed.(10) This led to the hypothesis that cord blood could be banked and used as a source of unrelated donor cells, possibly without full HLA matching.(11)
Unrelated Cord Blood Transplant
In 1996, outcome data from the first 25 unrelated cord blood transplants completed at Duke University were reported. (12) This study concluded that cord blood contained sufficient numbers of stem cells and progenitor cells to reconstitute the marrow of children who underwent myeloablative treatments, without full HLA matching between donor and recipient. Patients who underwent unrelated cord blood transplant experienced a lower incidence and severity of both acute and chronic GVHD, as compared to patients receiving unrelated matched bone marrow. Cell dose was strongly correlated with clinical outcome, including but not limited to time to and probability of engraftment, as well as overall survival. (12-15) Since this time, research has been ongoing to study the effectiveness of placental/umbilical cord blood for the treatment of various conditions.
The first prospective trial of unrelated cord blood transplant was the Cord Blood Transplantation study (COBLT) from 1997-2004. COBLT was designed to examine the safety of unrelated cord blood transplantation in infants, children, and adults. In children with malignant and nonmalignant conditions, 2-year event-free survival was 55% in children with high-risk malignancies (16) and 78% in children with nonmalignant conditions. (17) Across all groups, the cumulative incidence of engraftment by day 42 was 80%. Engraftment and survival were adversely affected by lower cell doses, pretransplant cytomegalovirus seropositivity in the recipient, non-European ancestry, and higher HLA mismatching. This slower engraftment leads to longer hospitalizations and greater utilization of medical resources. (18) In a retrospective multicenter study of 541 children with acute leukemia, rates of neutrophil recovery at day 60 were statistically different: 96% versus 80% for those receiving unrelated bone marrow and unrelated cord blood, respectively. (15) In the COBLT study, outcomes in adults were inferior to the outcomes achieved in children. This study also established three new cord blood banks and standard operating procedures addressing donor recruiting and screening, cord blood collection, processing, testing, cryopreservation, storage, and thawing for transplantation. (16, 19)
More recently, experience at the University of Minnesota has shown that using 2 units of cord blood for a single transplant in adults improved rates of engraftment and overall survival. (20) Pilot studies show engraftment being achieved by at least 90%, with overall survival at 1 year ranging from 60–80%, depending on the initial disease, comorbidities, and disease status at the time of transplant. (18) In general, when 2 units are used in a single transplant, 1 unit engrafts and the other is rejected. The exact role of the non-engrafting unit is unclear. Standard practice continues to be to transplant 1 unit; however, the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network (BMT-CTN) is currently sponsoring a randomized Phase III clinical trial to determine if outcomes are truly better with 2 versus 1 unit.
In addition to trial data, there have been numerous retrospective and registry studies. These studies have supported the conclusions in the early studies that unrelated cord blood transplantation is effective in both children and adults with hematologic malignancies and children with a variety of nonmalignant conditions. The majority of cord blood transplants have been mismatched at 1 or 2 HLA loci. A 2007 retrospective comparative analysis from the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research compared outcomes after unrelated cord blood versus unrelated bone marrow transplant. This study showed similar 5-year leukemia-free survival for those receiving allele-matched marrow and those who received unrelated cord blood with a 1 or 2 antigen mismatch. A minimum cell dose of 2.5–3.0 X 107 nucleated cells/kg in the cord blood has been associated with superior clinical outcome. (12, 14, 15, 21-23)
Autologous Cord Blood Transplant
Data regarding the use of cord blood for autologous stem cell transplantation are quite limited. However, blood banks are available for collecting and storing a neonate’s cord blood for a potential future use. A position paper from the American Academy of Pediatrics noted that there is no evidence of the safety or effectiveness of autologous cord blood transplantation for treatment of malignant neoplasms. (24) This report comments on evidence demonstrating the presence of DNA mutations in cord blood from children who subsequently develop leukemia. In addition, a survey of pediatric hematologists noted few transplants have been performed using cord blood stored in the absences of a known indication. (25) Thus the practice of collecting and storing cord blood for a potential future use is considered not medically necessary.
Cord blood transplantation offers clear advantages over other sources of allogeneic stem cells; the most significant of these is the ability to perform a successful transplant from an unrelated donor with 1 or 2 HLA mismatches. Cord blood is also more readily available than other sources of stem cells, and generally can be prepared for clinical use within 1-2 weeks. Collection of the cells is painless, which facilitates recruitment and provides for a more ethnically diverse pool. Current limitations include small inventories, units with low cell doses, and too few donors to provide 5 of 6 and 6 of 6 matches for all patients in need. Longer hospital stays and higher utilization of medical resources are a consequence of slower engraftment when cord blood is used. Even with these limitations, cord blood is an important source of stem cells, increasing the access to allogeneic stem-cell transplantation for many patients. Because of these advantages, use of cord blood as a source of stem cells in this situation may be considered medically necessary.
However, the routine collection and storage of cord blood for possible future use is not considered current standard medical care and has not been shown to improve outcomes. As a result, routinely collecting and storing cord blood for a potential future use is considered not medically necessary.
Practice Guidelines and Position Statements
On behalf of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Ballen and colleagues (26) published recommendations related to the banking of umbilical cord blood:
- Public banking of cord blood is encouraged when possible.
- Storage of cord blood for autologous (i.e., personal) use is not recommended.
- Family member banking (collecting and storing cord blood for a family member) is recommended when there is a sibling with a disease that may be successfully treated with an allogeneic transplant.
- Family member banking on behalf of a parent with a disease that may be successfully treated with an allogeneic transplant is only recommended when there are shared HLA antigens between the parents.
- Godley LA, van Besien K. The next frontier for stem cell transplantation: finding a donor for all. JAMA 2010; 303(14):1421-2.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Guidance for Industry: Minimally manipulated, unrelated allogeneic placental/umbilical cord blood intended for hematopoietic reconstitution for specified indications. Available online at: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/Blood/UCM187144.pdf. Last accessed May 2010.
- Wall DA. Regulatory issues in cord blood banking and transplantation. Best Pract Res Clin Haematol 2010; 23(2):171-7.
- Barker JN, Byam C, Scaradavou A. How I treat: the selection and acquisition of unrelated cord blood grafts. Blood 2011; 117(8):2332-9.
- Rao M, Ahrlund-Richter L, Kaufman DS. Concise review: Cord blood banking, transplantation and induced pluripotent stem cell: success and opportunities. Stem Cells 2012; 30(1):55-60.
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Technology Evaluation Center (TEC). Placental and umbilical cord blood as a source of stem cells for hematopoietic support. TEC Assessments 1996; Volume 11, Tab 17.
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Technology Evaluation Center (TEC). Transplanting adult patients with hematopoietic stem cells from placental and umbilical cord blood. TEC Assessments 2001; Volume 16, Tab 17.
- Gluckman E, Rocha V. Cord blood transplantation: state of the art. Haematologica 2009; 94(4):451-4.
- Gluckman E, Broxmeyer HA, Auerbach AD et al. Hematopoietic reconstitution in a patient with Fanconi's anemia by means of umbilical-cord blood from an HLA-identical sibling. N Engl J Med 1989; 321(17):1174-8.
- Wagner JE, Rosenthal J, Sweetman R et al. Successful transplantation of HLA-matched and HLA-mismatched umbilical cord blood from unrelated donors: analysis of engraftment and acute graft-versus-host disease. Blood 1996; 88(3):795-802.
- Broxmeyer HE, Douglas GW, Hangoc G et al. Human umbilical cord blood as a potential source of transplantable hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1989; 86(10):3828-32.
- Kurtzberg J, Laughlin M, Graham ML et al. Placental blood as a source of hematopoietic stem cells for transplantation into unrelated recipients. N Engl J Med 1996; 335(3):157-66.
- Mayani H, Lansdorp PM. Biology of human umbilical cord blood-derived hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells. Stem Cells 1998; 16(3):153-65.
- Gluckman E, Rocha V, Boyer-Chammard A et al. Outcome of cord-blood transplantation from related and unrelated donors. Eurocord Transplant Group and the European Blood and Marrow Transplantation Group. N Engl J Med 1997; 337(6):373-81.
- Rocha V, Cornish J, Sievers EL et al. Comparison of outcomes of unrelated bone marrow and umbilical cord blood transplants in children with acute leukemia. Blood 2001; 97(10):2962-71.
- Kurtzberg J, Cairo MS, Fraser JK et al. Results of the cord blood transplantation (COBLT) study unrelated donor banking program. Transfusion 2005; 45(6):842-55.
- Martin PL, Carter SL, Kernan NA et al. Results of the cord blood transplantation study (COBLT): outcomes of unrelated donor umbilical cord blood transplantation in pediatric patients with lysosomal and peroxisomal storage diseases. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2006; 12(2):184-94.
- Kurtzberg J. Update on umbilical cord blood transplantation. Curr Opin Pediatr 2009; 21(1):22-9.
- Fraser JK, Cairo MS, Wagner EL et al. Cord Blood Transplantation Study (COBLT): cord blood bank standard operating procedures. J Hematother 1998; 7(6):521-61.
- Barker JN, Weisdorf DJ, DeFor TE et al. Transplantation of 2 partially HLA-matched umbilical cord blood units to enhance engraftment in adults with hematologic malignancy. Blood 2005; 105(3):1343-7.
- Kurtzberg J, Prasad VK, Carter SL et al. Results of the Cord Blood Transplantation Study (COBLT): clinical outcomes of unrelated donor umbilical cord blood transplantation in pediatric patients with hematologic malignancies. Blood 2008; 112(10):4318-27.
- Prasad VK, Kurtzberg J. Emerging trends in transplantation of inherited metabolic diseases. Bone Marrow Transplant 2008; 41(2):99-108.
- Rubinstein P, Carrier C, Scaradavou A et al. Outcomes among 562 recipients of placental-blood transplants from unrelated donors. N Engl J Med 1998; 339(22):1565-77.
- Lubin BH, Shearer WT. Cord blood banking for potential future transplantation. Pediatrics 2007; 119(1):165-70.
- Thornley I, Eapen M, Sung L et al. Private cord blood banking: experiences and views of pediatric hematopoietic cell transplantation physicians. Pediatrics 2009; 123(3):1011-7.
- Ballen KK, Barker JN, Stewart SK et al. Collection and preservation of cord blood for personal use. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2008; 14(3):356-63.
|No specific code|
Transplantation of stem cells
[See the diagnosis codes listed in the various policies relevant to allogeneic stem-cell transplantation in the Therapy section of the MPRM (such as 8.01.15, 8.01.21, 8.01.22, etc.)]
Cord blood harvesting for transplantation, allogeneic
|S2142||Cord blood derived stem-cell transplantation, allogeneic|
|S2150||Bone marrow or blood-derived stem cells (peripheral or umbilical), allogeneic or autologous, harvesting, transplantation, and related complications; including: pheresis and cell preparation/storage; marrow ablative therapy; drugs; supplies; hospitalization with outpatient follow-up; medical/surgical, diagnostic, emergency, and rehabilitative services; and the number of days of pre- and post-transplant care in the global definition|
ICD-10-CM (effective 10/1/13)
[See the dianosis codes listed in the various policies relevant to
allogeneic stem-cell transplantation in the Therapy section of the
MPRM (such as 8.01.15, 8.01.21, 8.01.22, etc.)]
ICD-10-PCS (effective 10/1/13)
|30243X0, 30243X1||Percutaneous transfusion, central vein, stem cells, cord blood, autologous or nonautologous, code list|
Type of Service
|Place of Service||Inpatient|
Cord Blood as a Source of Stem Cells
Transplantation, Placental and Umbilical Cord Blood as a Source of Stem Cells
|11/30/96||Add to Surgery section||New policy|
|04/01/98||Replace policy||Policy updated, new indications added|
|02/15/02||Replace policy||Policy updated and revised based on TEC Assessment; cord blood as a source of stem cells not longer restricted to children, considered medically necessary in adults|
|04/29/03||Replace policy||Policy updated; no change in policy statement|
|06/10/10||Replace policy||Policy updated and returned to active review status with extensive revisions. References 1, 2, and 5–19 added. Intent of policy statements unchanged.|
|10/04/11||Replace policy||Policy updated with literature review; policy statement unchanged. References 3,4 added|
|10/11/12||Replace Policy||Policy updated with literature review; policy statements unchanged. References 5, 9-11 added.|