Article updated on:
October 27, 2023
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Cord blood, the blood residing in the placenta and umbilical cord post childbirth, is a reservoir of stem cells capable of treating numerous diseases including hematopoietic and genetic disorders.
With growing interests from cell therapeutics companies, it's swiftly becoming a promising alternative for treating rare diseases such as unique types of cancer.
Disclaimer: DVC Stem does not offer umbilical cord blood products nor does it use blood derived products in its ongoing clinical trials. This post is for information purposes only and does not reflect our treatment protocol.
- Cord blood houses a variety of stem cells beneficial in treating various diseases.
- Collection of cord blood is a simple, painless procedure performed post childbirth.
- The banking of cord blood, both public and private, offers a resource for potential life-saving treatments.
- Emerging trends hint at a broader spectrum of cord blood applications in near future.
Benefits of Cord Blood: Cord blood stem cells are proven effective in treating diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, and inherited immune system disorders, showcasing its pivotal role in modern medicine.
Cord Blood Overview
Umbilical cord blood is a rich source of stem cells that can be used to treat a variety of diseases and conditions. The blood remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta after birth contains hematopoietic stem cells similar to those found in bone marrow.
Since the late 1980s, umbilical cord blood stem cells have been utilized to treat blood and immune system disorders, metabolic disorders, and injuries to the brain and nervous system.
- Umbilical cord blood contains young stem cells that have a higher proliferation and engraftment capacity compared to adult stem cells from bone marrow or peripheral blood. This makes cord blood ideal for transplantation, especially in children.
Reduced Graft-Versus-Host Disease (GVHD)
- Cord blood stem cells cause less graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) compared to adult stem cells, allowing for successful transplantation even when full HLA matching is not possible. This increases the chances of finding a suitable match.
Banking for Future Use
- Cord blood can be banked and stored for future use, providing an immediately available source of stem cells when needed for transplants to treat leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia, and other disorders. Over 40,000 cord blood transplants have been performed worldwide.
Neonatal Condition Treatment
- Clinical trials are investigating the use of cord blood stem cells to treat neonatal conditions like hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, neonatal stroke, and intraventricular hemorrhage, with promising results so far.
- Pre-clinical research indicates cord blood stem cells have immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties that could be used to treat brain injury, liver fibrosis, lung injury, and other conditions. Ongoing research is exploring mechanisms and clinical applications.
Diverse Cellular Composition
- Cord blood contains a diverse mixture of stem and progenitor cells that demonstrate therapeutic potential through paracrine actions. The variety of cell types may contribute to observed benefits.
- Cord blood collection does not harm the infant or mother and excess units can be banked for public use or research. This provides a readily available stem cell source benefiting thousands.
Collection of Cord Blood
The procedure to collect cord blood is straightforward and is conducted at the time of delivery. Once the baby is born, the umbilical cord is clamped, and blood is drained from it using a needle attached to a bag.
This procedure, taking roughly 10 minutes, is performed by your healthcare provider, ensuring a painless experience.
Components of Cord Blood
Cord blood comprises all elements found in whole blood - red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, and platelets. However, the prime interest lies in its rich content of stem cells, especially hematopoietic stem cells which are crucial for treating various diseases.
The table below shows a comparison of cord blood components with regular blood:
With the advent of advanced cellular therapies, the significance of cord blood as a reservoir of stem cells is becoming increasingly apparent. The unique composition of cord blood, especially its richness in hematopoietic stem cells, places it at the forefront of regenerative medicine, providing a less invasive yet potent alternative to bone marrow transplants.
Applications of Cord Blood Stem Cells
The stem cells found in cord blood are instrumental in treating over 70 different diseases including some types of cancer, blood disorders, and inherited disorders of the immune system.
According to experts at Mayo Clinic, diseases such as lymphoma, leukemia, thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, neuroblastoma, and retinoblastoma are just a few examples of the ailments treatable with cord blood stem cells.
Public Awareness and Considerations
The awareness among expectant parents about the benefits of cord blood is pivotal. Discussing with healthcare providers about cord blood banking options, understanding the procedure, and considering the costs involved are vital steps in making informed decisions.
Private cord blood banking is not covered by insurance, and the longevity of cord blood storage remains under research, as stated by Mayo Clinic.
Cord Blood Banking
Cord blood banking is a meticulous process where the collected cord blood is stored in either public or private banks for future use. The stem cells contained in cord blood are the primary reason behind its banking, given their potential to treat numerous diseases.
Operational Framework of Cord Blood Banks
The operation of cord blood banks is regulated by stringent guidelines to ensure the safety and viability of the stored cord blood. Here's a glimpse into the operational framework:
- Collection: Health care providers collect cord blood post childbirth, ensuring a sterile and safe collection process.
- Testing: The collected sample undergoes rigorous testing to ensure it's free from any infectious diseases and has a viable count of stem cells.
- Processing: The cord blood is then processed to isolate stem cells which are then stored.
- Storage: The stem cells are cryopreserved in controlled conditions to maintain their viability over time.
The difference between private and public cord blood banks primarily lies in the accessibility of the stored cord blood. Private banks store cord blood for exclusive use by the donor or their family members, whereas public banks store donated cord blood for use by anyone in need.
Benefits and Limitations of Cord Blood Banking
The table below encapsulates the benefits and limitations of cord blood banking:
The economics of cord blood banking often comes under scrutiny, given the costs associated with private banking. However, when juxtaposed against the long-term medical expenses potentially offset by the availability of cord blood for treating severe health conditions, the economic rationale becomes clearer.
Emerging Trends in Cord Blood Usage
The horizon of cord blood usage is expanding with continuous research. Genetically modified allogenic natural killer cells derived from cord blood are being eyed as alternatives to CAR T cell therapies for rare diseases, as per the insights from Wikipedia.
Making an Informed Decision
Considering cord blood banking entails a thorough understanding of its benefits, limitations, and the operational framework of cord blood banks. Engaging in discussions with healthcare providers, exploring public and private banking options, and weighing the associated costs are crucial steps in making an informed decision.