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.

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