Monday, 23 November 2015

Why Save Your Baby’s Cord Blood?

Why save baby cord blood? What are its benefits? Is it worth the money? Blood present in the baby’s umbilical cord contains stem cells. Multipotent adult stem cells present in the umbilical cord blood make it a precious resource in the medical and research field. And that is why baby’s cord blood, which was once discarded as medical waste, is now collected and saved for long term storage. The first human transplant using cord stem cells was performed in 1988. It was for treating Fanconi anemia – an inherited disease that mainly affects the bone marrow. Cord blood that was used to treat only one disease at that time can now treat nearly 80 diseases.

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) present in the baby cord blood can be used to restore the damaged blood cells in our body. Developed from mesodermal hemangioblast cells, HSCs are self-renewing progenitor cells that has the potential to generate multitude of cell types found in the blood stream including red blood cells, white blood cells and megakaryocytes. Hematologic and nonhematologic cancers, autoimmune disorders, various forms of anemia and immunodeficiency disorders can be treated with the cord blood Hematopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCTs). Why cord blood stem cell transplants are gaining wide acceptance in the medical community? Cord blood stem cell transplants require a less-stringent HLA match and carry a lower risk of graft-vs-host disease. Moreover, the transplant outcomes are more effective and better with cord blood applications when compared to other transplant methods. 

Stem cells are not only present in the cord blood, but also in the surrounding tissue.  Umbilical cord tissue is a rich source of Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). This type of multipotent connective tissue cells can develop into a variety of cell types such as bone cells, cartilage cells, muscle cells and fat cells. Many scientists are striving harder to discover the cord tissue benefits and applications. Currently research and clinical trials are going on to better understand the potential of cord tissue. According to the scientists, cord tissue MSCs can be used to treat Liver fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis and lung cancer to name a few.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Use of Cord Blood and Cord Tissue Stem Cells

From diagnostic tools to treatment modalities, innovative advancements in the medical technology have been offering promising solutions to increase the quality of patient’s life and cure the root cause of debilitating conditions effectively. Introduction of umbilical cord blood stem cell transplants is a case in point. Umbilical cord which connects the mother to a developing fetus has mainly two layers – an outer layer of smooth muscle and inner layer made from gelatinous Wharton’s jelly. The cord has one vein and two arteries. Vein supplies oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the fetus whereas arteries take away the nutrient depleted and deoxygenated blood from the fetus.

Blood from the umbilical cord is an abundant source of multipotent Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and can be used to treat a number of life threatening conditions. Moreover, it is also used for the regenerative medicine research and clinical trials. Not just the cord blood (CB), but the umbilical cord tissue also contains Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Currently, HSCs are used to treat more than 80 diseases including leukemias, lymphomas, anemias and Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). On the other hand, umbilical cord tissue is not yet used in the medical applications or clinical practice. However, researchers firmly believe that the cord tissue’s MSCs has the potential to treat spinal cord injuries, heart disease, arthritis, stroke, alzheimer’s and type 1 diabetes.  Several clinical trials and studies are underway to explore the promising applications and therapeutic benefits of cord tissue MSCs. And that is why medical communities consider umbilical cord blood and tissue as a precious resource. 

If you are an expectant parent, then you may either choose to bank your newborn’s cord blood or donate it. You should discuss the matter with your family doctor and family member before taking a final decision. Families with a medical history of inherited diseases may opt for private cord blood banking. No matter whether you decide to bank or donate your newborn’s CB, choosing a reputed cord blood bank is significant.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

All About Umbilical Cord Blood

Placenta and umbilical cord are the two crucial support systems of a healthy pregnancy. Placenta not only provides nourishment to the growing fetus but also takes away the waste from the fetus to mother’s system for excretion.  The cord structure that connects placenta to the fetus is called umbilical cord. Known as the lifeline between mother and baby, umbilical cord carries oxygenated blood from placenta to baby through its vein and takes away deoxygenated blood from baby to placenta through its arteries. 

Blood present in the umbilical cord, which was once considered as a medical waste, is now known to be a valuable resource. Abundant presence of stem cells in the newborn’s umbilical cord blood (CB) makes it a lifesaving resource and that is why the medical community is encouraging the storage of cord blood stem cells. Used to treat more than 70 types of diseases including leukemia, lymphoma, sickle-cell disease, metabolic disorders and some inherited disorders, newborn’s umbilical cord blood holds a promising future in regenerative medicine therapies. 

Several clinical trials are still underway, where scientists and researchers are striving harder to unlock and tap into the potential of cord blood and cord tissue stem cells. Unlike the bone marrow stem cell harvesting, cord blood collection and stem cell banking is a painless procedure that doesn’t require any invasive methods. Easy and quick CB collection carried out immediately after the delivery neither hurts the mother nor the baby. Expectant parents may check out informative cord blood banking videos and webinar sessions to explore the benefits and downsides of CB. 

The first successful cord blood stem cell transplant took place in 1988 at Hospital Saint-Louis in Paris. Performed for treating Fanconi's anemia, this transplantation was a new milestone in the history of stem cell research. The patient was a five year old boy named Matthew Farrow and he received the donor stem cells from his newborn baby sister. Since then, cord blood stem cell banking and donations have reported a surging growth and popularity.
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