In previous decades, the umbilical cord connecting the baby to the placenta was typically cut and discarded as medical waste. This has changed thanks to researchers discovering that umbilical cord blood is a valuable source of stem cells. Many parents, doctors, and researchers are eager to preserve cord blood and cord tissue for later use.
Welcome to part 4 in our series on cystic fibrosis. This series has been published to help promote Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month, which is held each May. In this article, we’ll explain how cord blood stem cells may be used to treat cystic fibrosis and share some recent research findings.
Stem cells are powerful cells that are essential for life. Often referred to as the building blocks of the human body, stem cells are young cells that can develop into other types of cells. They perform many critical tasks that are necessary for life, including healing our injuries and maintaining the health of our internal organs.
Research into the use of cord blood stem cells continues to move at a rapid pace. There are exciting new discoveries being made on a weekly basis — many of which could completely change how certain conditions are treated. To help you understand the ramifications of these findings, this article will focus on what the future holds for cord blood stem cell treatments.
A recent survey from the World Health Organisation found that Ischaemic heart disease and stroke remain the world’s biggest killers, causing an estimated 15.2 million deaths in 2016. These two diseases have now been the world’s leading cause of death for more than 15 years.
Both heart disease and stroke fall under the category of heart and vascular diseases. This category also includes conditions like high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, heart arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, and peripheral artery disease.
The immune system plays a critical role in the human body, helping to protect the body from infectious organisms and other foreign invaders. It relies on a complex system of cells and proteins which prevent infections and diseases from causing damage.
Scientists have made some incredible breakthroughs in the field of stem cell research in the past few decades. These breakthroughs have resulted in stem cells being used to treat more than 80 different diseases, including many forms of cancer, immune system disorders, metabolic disorders, and blood disorders.
According to figures from the World Health Organisation, up to one billion people currently suffer from a neurological disorder of some type. This is approximately 1 in 6 of the world’s population. The WHO also reports that as many as 6.8 million people die due to a neurological condition each year.
Neurological disorders include a range of diseases and injuries that that affect the brain, spine, and nerves that connect them. Medical researchers have identified more than 600 different neurological disorders ranging from common conditions like stroke, Parkinson’s disease and brain tumours through to less common ailments like frontotemporal dementia.
Stem cell transplants are designed to replace the patient’s unhealthy cells with healthy ones. The most common sources of these healthy cells are the umbilical cord blood and bone marrow.
Cord blood refers to the blood that is collected from an infant's umbilical cord after delivery, so that it may be tested, frozen, and subsequently stored cord blood bank for future use. The cord blood contains unique stem cells that can potentially treat more than 80 medical conditions.
The bone marrow, on the other hand, is extracted from the breastbone, skull, hips, ribs or spine, as these contain stem cells which produce the following types of blood cells:
A recent study performed by researchers in Colombia used stem cells from umbilical cord blood to repair cleft palates in children. The results of the trial were successful and may lead to a treatment that replaces the need for bone grafts in children with this condition.