How Cord Blood Stem Cells Are Being Used to Repair Damaged Cells
Cord blood stem cells have been used to treat patients suffering from various blood disorders and diseases for the last 29 years. In that time, cord blood stem cell therapy has been used in over 30,000 stem cell transplants, to address around 80 medical conditions.
What are Cord Blood Stem Cells?
Cord blood stem cells are derived from umbilical cord blood. Once discarded as waste material, umbilical cords are now a useful source of blood stem cells.
With the consent of the parents, the stem cells are easily collected from the umbilical cord and placenta of a newborn child shortly after birth.
This process is completely painless and does not harm the newborn or the mother in any way.
The stem cells are extracted, and frozen and kept in public blood banks for future use.
Cord Blood Benefits
Studies show that compared to haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) from bone marrow donors, HSCs from cord blood transplants lead to fewer immune system incompatibilities. Extracting stem cells from your own body or that of a donor, can be painful and cause side effects. As cord blood cells are extracted from an umbilical cord after birth, there is no evasive extraction, pain or side effects. Unlike other types of stem cells, cord blood stem cell therapy doesn’t require typing or matching. Pre-harvested cells are ready for injection within a few days.
What are Cord Blood Cells Used For?
Blood stem cells can create all the other types of cells found in blood, including immune system cells. Transplanting cord blood stem cells can help patients suffering from a variety of blood diseases and disorders including:
Leukaemia – a type of cancer that affects the leukocytes of the blood immune system. Stem cell transplants have been used to address acute, chronic and juvenile forms of leukemias.
Lymphoma – a type of blood cancer that affects the leukocytes that circulate in the blood and
lymph nodes. Stem cell transplants have been used in the treatment of both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas.
Blood Proliferated Disorders – these include anaemia, sickle cell anaemia, Beta Thalassemia Major, severe combined immunodeficiency condition, red cell aplasia, multiple myeloma and plasma cell leuikemia.
Immune and Metabolic Disorders – including hurler syndrome, hunter syndrome, ALD, Lesch Nyhan syndrome and Osteopetrosis.
Tumors – including neuroblastoma, medulloblastoma and retinoblastoma Physicians have used cord blood to treat children with specific blood diseases since 1989 and are beginning to administer these stem cells to adults following chemotherapy treatment.
There are more than 30 clinical trials featuring umbilical cord stem cell therapy. These trials have been approved based on the success and positive outcomes of prior testing.
Cord Blood Stem Cell Limitations and Challenges
The biggest challenge facing cord blood stem cell research is supply. While the HSCs found in cord blood appear to be more compatible with their new hosts, cord blood contains fewer HSCs than can be found in bone marrow. Therefore, a single donation is rarely enough to provide enough HSCs for adult patients.
Researchers are currently working to find a way to generate more HSCs from cord blood in labs so that a single cord blood donation could provide enough stem cells for one or more HSC transplants. This would make cord blood stem cells more accessible, and easier to study.
If you are someone you know could benefit from cord blood stem cell therapy, contact Dayton Dandes Medical Center to learn more about the procedure and treatment plans.
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