Umbilical cord blood stem cells

Powerful

Umbilical cord blood stem cells are pure and plastic, meaning that they can become almost any cell in the human body

Unique

Your child will never have another chance to access certain stem cell types that are only found in umbilical cord blood

Safe

Collecting umbilical cord blood stem cells is completely risk free, non-invasive and painless

Umbilical cord blood is the blood that can be collected from your baby’s umbilical cord and the placenta after they are born. Umbilical cord blood contains billions of powerful stem cells. Stem cell treatments are already used to treat over 80 different diseases and may hold the key to regenerative medicine for your child in the future. This is why millions of parents in the UK and all over the world have chosen to store the blood from their children’s umbilical cord and placenta.

What are stem cells and what can they do?

Stem cells are powerful master cells that have two unique properties:

The ability to self renew indefinitely

The power to divide into specialised cells

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This means that when your body needs more stem cells, they can replicate to produce more specialised cells that can replace damaged ones. Your child’s body has over 200 types of specialised cells, including hair, skin, organs, brain and nervous system cells. Each of these cells will have originated from a stem cell and has just one crucial function. For example, skin cells act as a protective barrier to the outside world, heart cells pump vital blood around their body, red blood cells carry the precious oxygen that your child needs to function and white blood cells form the immune system that prevents them from falling ill. Given the right conditions and signals, your baby’s umbilical cord blood stem cells can differentiate into these different cell types and as a result are extremely valuable in treating an increasing array of medical conditions where specialised cells are damaged and require replacing.

What makes umbilical cord blood stem cells different?

Stem cells are found in many parts of the human body, however some sources contain richer concentrations than others. Human embryos are also excellent sources of stem cells, however their use is controversial and illegal in some countries. In contrast, umbilical cord blood and tissue are collected from material that normally has no use following a child’s birth. They are the richest and purest source of stem cells that your child will ever have and storing them gives you the opportunity to safeguard your child’s health for years to come. Moreover, they can be easily and safely collected, and reliably stored for treating future health issues. This table compares umbilical cord blood and tissue stem cells with other stem cell sources:

Cord Blood Bone Marrow Peripheral blood Adipose
Potency YY Y Y Y
Availability YY Y Y Y
Routine use in humans Y N N N
Low tumour risk N N N N
Does not require powerful drugs to collect N N N
Contains HSCs N N N
Contains MSCs N N
Contains VSELs N
Capacity for high proliferation N
Low viral contamination risk N
Non-invasive and painless to collect N

Umbilical cord blood stem cells have the power to repair, regenerate and save lives.

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Stem cell types in cord blood

There are three main stem cell types in umbilical cord blood. These are haematopoietic stem cells2, mesenchymal stem cells and very small embryonic-like stem cells. Each has its own function:

Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs).
These cells have the ability to transform into various blood cells, including white blood cells. It is these stem cells that are being used in many current therapies, such as cancer therapy, to repair the immune system.

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Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)
These cells have the ability to transform into a huge range of tissue types, including: nerve tissue, muscle tissue and cartilage. As a result, these cells are considered extremely important for regenerative therapies where doctors will look to repair these tissue types with mesenchymal stem cells and even grow new organs.

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Very Small Embryonic-Like stem cells (VSELs)
Currently, less is known about the properties of VSELs, however, it is possible that they could be the most valuable stem cell type of all. As their name suggests, VSELs share many of the features of embryonic stem cells, meaning that the range of tissue types that they can transform into is much greater than with most other stem cell types. As a result, the number of potential conditions that they could be used to treat is far higher.

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