How we handled the dextran shortage: An alternative washing or dilution solution for cord blood infusions Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Cord Blood Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Dextrans
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells
  • Hydroxyethyl Starch Derivatives


  • Dextran 40 is the main component of the solution used to wash or dilute thawed cord blood unit (CBU) products for stem cell transplant. Dextran 40 became unavailable in the United States as of April 2014. Like many other cellular therapy laboratories in the United States, we found ourselves with limited dextran 40 inventory, a growing CBU transplant requirement, and no alternative solution. Since there are no published alternative washing solutions for cryopreserved CBU we had to develop and validate a new solution rapidly. We chose to validate hydroxyethyl starch (HES) due to its similar ability to stabilize red blood cells and reduce sudden changes in osmolality that occur during thawing. For the validation we used 3 CBUs and thawed and washed each unit with both dextran 40- and HES-based solutions; thus, each CBU served as its own control. We observed no significant differences between the two wash solutions for all the monitored variables including cell viability, cell recovery, or potency measured by colony-forming cell assay. Based on this initial validation we began using HES-albumin for CBU washing after our supply was exhausted. Our initial experience with the first 16 CBU transplants after validation indicates safe infusion and preliminary cord engraftment.

publication date

  • January 2015



  • Academic Article



  • eng

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/trf.13015

PubMed ID

  • 25652820