Umbilical cord blood stem cells
What are stem cells and what can they do?
Stem cells are powerful master cells that have two unique properties:
For example, skin cells act as a protective barrier to the outside world while 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. As a result, they 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 present in many parts of the human body. However, some sources contain richer concentrations than others. Human embryos are also excellent sources of stem cells but 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.
Storing them therefore 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|
|Routine use in humans|
|Low tumour risk|
|Does not require powerful drugs to collect|
|Capacity for high proliferation|
|Low viral contamination risk|
|Non-invasive and painless to collect|
Umbilical cord blood stem cells have the power to repair, regenerate and save lives.
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:
These cells have the ability to transform into various blood cells, including white blood cells. Medical professionals are using this type of stem cell in many current therapies, such as cancer therapy, to repair the immune system.
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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. In future, 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, we know less 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. This means they can transform into a wider array of tissue types than most other stem cell types. As a result, the number of potential conditions that they could be used to treat is far higher.
Can umbilical cord blood be used more than once?
With Cells4Life’s unique TotiCyte technology, samples yield three times the cell count – which broadens the opportunities available to you and your family.
We also offer multiple sample storage, which involves splitting a sample across two locations. We only have to thaw the required amount of cells for any given therapy, leaving the rest in storage for later use.
Are there any ethical issues attached to cord blood stem cells?
Umbilical cord stem cells could help to repair bone and tissue for babies born with a cleft palate. Researchers at Hospital De San Jose in Bogota, Colombia, tested cord blood stem cells on nine children in their trial. Results suggested that full recovery...read more
In 1988, an international team of doctors came together to perform the first ever cord blood transplant on a five-year-old boy. On the 30th anniversary of his surgery, Cells4Life takes a look at the past, present and future of stem cell science. 30 years...read more
A Canadian study investigating the expansion of umbilical cord blood stem cells has advanced into early clinical trial stages. The news comes after scientists reported promising initial results, which found that expanded cells could even facilitate faster...read more