The umbilical cord is a truly remarkable organ. It is a conduit between the mother’s placenta and the foetus, providing the foetus with oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood and removing waste. Without a healthy umbilical cord, life would be impossible.
Traditionally, the umbilical cord would be discarded as medical waste after a baby is delivered. However, this has changed in recent years, as researchers have discovered that umbilical cord blood and tissue is a plentiful source of valuable stem cells.
The stem cells contained within the umbilical cord blood can be used to treat over 85 different conditions, including many forms of cancer, blood disorders, metabolic disorders, and autoimmune disorders.
There is also ongoing research which indicates that cord blood stem cells may be used to treat many other conditions including macular degeneration, brain injuries, autism, cerebral palsy, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and stroke.
These findings have led to more parents preserving their child’s umbilical cord blood and tissue. In this article, we’ll share some information about the therapeutic value of the umbilical cord and how preserving it could change your baby’s life.
What Are Stem Cells?
You can think of stem cells as the ‘building blocks’ of the human body.
Stem cells have the unique ability of being able to create more of themselves, through a process called “self-renewal”. Stem cells can also create other types of specialised cells like liver cells, skin cells, nerve cells, and blood cells. This occurs through a process called “differentiation”.
Stem cells are responsible for many important tasks, including repairing injuries, replacing dying cells, and fighting off diseases. Many scientists and researchers are working to harness the unique characteristics of stem cells to treat hundreds of different medical conditions.
Where Stem Cells Are Found
Although stem cells are found virtually everywhere in the body, they are mostly located in the bone marrow and umbilical cord blood.
The major types of stem cells found within the umbilical cord blood are:
- Haematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs) – these are stem cells that can differentiate into a single type of specialised cell, specifically into all blood lineage cells.
- Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) – they are multipotent stem cells that can differentiate into several types of specialised cells including bone, fat, ligament, and cartilage cells.
- Very Small Embryonic-Like Stem Cells (VSELs) – are unique stem cells that are very small in size but have maximum regenerative potential and have the ability to become any cell type in the body.
The placenta and the amnion (the inner layer of the placenta) have also been shown to be valuable sources stem cells.
The placental cells found in the chorionic villi (the three-like structures on the outer membrane of the amniotic sac) are showing incredible promise as scientists are investigating their potential used in growing list of treatments including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Crohn’s disease.
Amnion on the other hand, has been used to treat burns and wounds since the 20th century and are currently being used in clinical trials for treatment of brain injury, lung and liver fibrosis, and dry eye.
How Can Stem Cells Change Your Child’s Life?
Scientists have been researching the potential uses of stem cells from umbilical cord blood for many years. Medical conditions that could be treated using cord blood stem cells include:
Over a dozen types of cancer can be treated with cord blood stem cells. They include:
- Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
- Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
- Acute Biphenotypic Leukemia
- Acute Undifferentiated Leukemia
- Hodgkin's Lymphoma
- Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (Burkitt's Lymphoma)
The cord blood’s hematopoietic stem cells are also useful for treating the following blood disorders:
- Aplastic Anemia
- Fanconi Anemia (The world’s first cord blood transplant treated this condition)
- Congenital Dyserythropoietic Anemia
- Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria (PNH)
- Sickle Cell Disease
- Beta Thalassemia Major
Immune system disorders
Currently, cord blood stem cells can treat the following immune system disorders:
- Cartilage-Hair Hypoplasia
- Erythropoietic Porphyria
- Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome
- Pearson's Syndrome
- Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome
- Systemic Mastocytosis
Over 25 different metabolic disorders can be treated using cord blood stem cells, including:
- Hurler Syndrome (MPS-IH)
- Scheie Syndrome (MPS-IS)
- Hunter Syndrome (MPS-II)
- Sanfilippo Syndrome (MPS-III)
- Morquio Syndrome (MPS-IV)
- Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD)
- Krabbe Disease (Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy)
- Metachromatic Leukodystrophy
- Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease
Researchers are also experimenting with stem cells to see if they can treat other conditions including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Cerebral palsy
- Hearing loss
- Spinal cord injury
- Brain injury
- Parkinson’s disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Heart failure
- Arthritis and many more (view more on the https://www.medcells.ae/ website)
Stem cells from umbilical cord blood have already saved thousands of lives. More than 40,000 cord blood transplants have been performed worldwide.
By preserving your baby’s umbilical cord blood with a private cord blood bank (also known as cord blood banking), you can ensure that your child has an abundant supply of stem cells available if they are needed.
Cells4Life provides expecting parents a comprehensive option to preserve the stem cells from umbilical cord blood:
We also provide additional stem cell storage services to help preserve the maximum number of stem cells at birth including:
The process of cord blood banking is simple. Once you decided to sign up, a Cells4Life representative will hand you a storage agreement to be filled out and you’ll receive a cord blood collection kit that contains all the materials needed to collect the cord blood sample at the time of birth.
Your doctor or midwife will perform the cord blood collection after the birth, so it is important to let them know in advance that you opted for cord blood banking. The collected cord blood sample is then shipped to our laboratory in the UK where it is processed immediately upon arrival. After the testing and processing, your cord blood sample will be stored safely in our storage labs. You will receive a printed certificate as proof of storage, and we’ll continue to get in touch with you via email newsletter about the latest stem cell news and company updates.
Cells4Life is the only cord blood bank in the UK that offers storage in 2 geographically separate storage locations for more security. We have more than 150,000 cord blood samples in storage, and we store in multiple sample subdivisions – giving you the unique option of using just a portion of the sample stored as needed for stem cell treatment and keeping the remaining in storage until required for use.
As you can see, the stem cells in your baby’s umbilical cord blood have incredible therapeutic potential. By preserving these cells, you can protect your child from a wide range of illnesses in years to come. To learn more about cord blood banking, contact Cells4Life on +971 4 3116613.