Top 5 Facts About Cord Blood
Cord blood is the blood that's found in a newborn baby's umbilical cord after birth. Hospitals discard it unless they're told otherwise by the parents. Cord blood is a highly valuable source of a type of stem cell that's can be used for a variety of treatments including the treatment of Parkinson's disease.
As more people become aware of the value of cord blood, more parents are choosing to store their newborns' cord blood in public banks or private cord blood banks. There is a price to this and storage fees can be expensive, but often the benefits outweigh the costs.
Cord Stem Cells Are Different From Other Stem Cells
To first understand how cord stem cells are different from other stem cells, it's important to understand what stem cells are.
Stem cells are the building blocks, the master cells, of the body and it's these cells that are responsible for the creation of other cells that make up the immune system, blood and organ tissue. Stem cells can be found in bone marrow and have been used for years in the medical community to help patients who have undergone chemotherapy regenerate their immune system cells or blood cells.
The stem cells taken from the umbilical cord are biologically younger. According to the New England Journal of Medicine cord blood transplants cause fewer complications when used in transplants. They can be used right away and can slow the progression of certain diseases when used early enough after diagnosis of the disease.
It's possible to freeze cord blood stem cells, basically keeping them in a forever young state. Freezing the cells protects them from common viruses, environmental damage or age.
There is nothing controversial about cord blood stem cell collection. The collection procedure is painless, simple and safe. No embryos or fetuses or newborn babies are harmed or killed during the collection process.
There Are Two Types of Cord Blood Stem Cells
Stem cells can be collected from the cord blood or the tissue of the umbilical cord. The cord blood contains hematopoietic stem cells. These stem cells are aid in the short-term and long-term regeneration of the blood and immune system.
Stem cells collected from the tissue of an umbilical cord contains mesenchymal stem cells and multipotent cells that can create connective and structural tissue including cartilage cells (chondrocytes), bone cells (osteoblasts) and fat cells (adipocytes).
Cord Stem Cells Can Be Used in Regenerative Medicine
A new area of medicine called regenerative medicine is currently being researched and stem cells play an important role in this research. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, "virtually any disease that results from malfunctioning, damaged or failing tissues may be potentially cured" with regenerative medicine.
Regenerative medicine research is currently being conducted into the treatment of traumatic brain injuries, juvenile diabetes and cerebral palsy.
Cord Blood Stem Cells Can Be Stored Indefinitely
The Journal of Hematotherapy says that cord blood stem cells can be stored indefinitely. They need to be stored under the right conditions. Proper cord blood cell storage conditions involve collecting the cord blood and tissue from the umbilical cord shortly after the umbilical cord has been cut. The process usually takes less than five minutes. Then the blood and tissue is shipped to a laboratory and frozen in cryogenic storage tanks.
Stem Cell Use Has Increased in the Last 15 Years
Cord blood use has increased in the last decade and a half. According to the US Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research, the frequency at which it's used will continue to increase. The center says that one out of every 217 people will use their own or some else's stem cells before the age of 70.