Thursday, 28 May 2015

Benefits of Banking Cord Blood & Cord Tissue

The field of stem cell research have made significant stride in the recent years and the discovery of stem cell presence in umbilical cord blood was one of the remarkable achievements. Have you been thinking what exactly cord blood is? Blood left in the umbilical cord and placenta is termed as the cord blood (CB). Until recently, both the umbilical cord and placenta were discarded as medical waste right after the child birth. But during the 1970s, researchers discovered that the umbilical cord blood is a rich source of stem cells. Also known as the master cells, adult stem cells possess remarkable potential to develop into a complete array of tissue and organ cells of the body. Cord blood contains haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) that are responsible for maintaining blood production in our body. On the other hand, cord tissue contains Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) that have the potential to differentiate into cartilage cells, bone cells and fat cells. Several clinical trials are underway exploring the therapeutical cord tissue benefits and applications. 

Currently, umbilical cord blood is used to treat more than 80 life-threatening diseases. Some of the major conditions include cancers, blood diseases and immune deficiency disorders. HSCs present in the umbilical cord blood develop into red cells, white cells and platelets further restoring the body’s ability to produce blood. Patients with cancerous blood disorders are treated with chemotherapy or radiation, which reduces the stem cells in the bone marrow. Cord blood stem cell transplant helps to replace the damaged blood forming cells with healthy HSCs. Since the collection of cord blood is easier and probability of complications is slighter, CB transplants have become a safe and effective alternative to bone marrow stem cell transplants. On the other hand, researchers continue to investigate the therapeutical cord tissue benefits thereby offering promising hope for the treatment of several debilitating conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, spinal cord injury, diabetes and more.

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