The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first hematopoietic progenitor cells-cord (HPC-C) cell therapy for the treatment of blood forming disorders or cancer.

The regulator licensed Hemacord, a therapy manufactured by the New York Blood Center, which uses cells of human blood from the placenta and the umbilical cord to treat patients with certain blood cancers and some inherited metabolic and immune system disorders.

Cord blood is one of three sources of HPCs used in transplants, the other two are bone marrow and peripheral blood, the flowing blood that circulates through the body.

Once these HPCs are infused into patients, the cells migrate to the bone marrow where they divide and partially or fully restore the number and function of many blood cells, including immune function.

Karen Midthun, managing director for the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said: "The use of cord blood hematopoietic progenitor cell therapy offers potentially life-saving treatment options for patients with these types of disorders."