November 15, 2021
Dr. Lana du Plessis
November 15, 2021
Dr. Lana du Plessis
Stem cells are unspecialised cells present firstly in the embryo during prenatal development and later in adult life. These cells can replace damaged cells and develop into any specific cell of various tissue types when required by the living body. In adults; stem cells are found in various tissues such as blood, bones, brain, skin, and liver. However, during the developmental stage of the fetus, the umbilical cord serves as an essential source of nourishment to the growing fetus. The blood of the cord and the tissue of the cord is another highly enriched source of stem cells and these important cells can be cryopreserved at birth to assist in treating numerous diseases and conditions.
The process of collecting blood from a newborn is entirely non-practical and painless for the mother as well as the baby.
The banking of cord blood is a risk-free procedure for the baby and the mother.
Cord blood stem cells have an increased advantage of easier tolerability, reduced rejection and mismatching concerns than bone marrow stem cells.
The chances of graft diseases after transplantation are higher with peripheral blood and bone marrow stem cells as compared to cord blood.
Apart from the easy collection of cord blood, it can be stored for 20 years or more (given it is stored under the industry approved controlled conditions). When cryopreserved, cord blood has a longer shelf life for usage after many years of collection. Bone marrow blood cannot be preserved for a longer duration.
Cord blood has the added advantage of being used to boost immunity of patients, during the treatment of cancer. Researchers are using cord blood stem cells to increase the immune system of cancer patients after chemotherapeutic treatment of cancer. This treatment provides for better outcomes and recovery of cancer patients.
The stem cells from cord blood have increasing dividing capacity and therefore when transplanted in a recipient will give better results than bone marrow or peripheral blood. The yield of cord stem cells is about 14 times greater than cells from other sources when comparing the volumes collected.
Stem cells from cord blood rarely carry any infectious diseases and are half as likely to be rejected as adult stem cells.
The banking of cord blood offers reliable and useful choices to parents for saving their child’s health prospects. This process is like health insurance for your children and direct family, due to the similarity in genetics the probability of being a match for siblings is 25% and 50% for parents. Thus the saving could provide a cost saving in the long run when comparing a transplant from a non-related adult stem cell source.
Due to improved chances of donor receipt of stem cells into the foreign body, the cord donor blood could prove to be an extraordinary relief to many sufferers. The donation of cord blood is motivated by the certain health agencies as it can serve as an outstanding transplantation opportunity in many recipients.
In case of medical problems, providing stem cells from a child could be a source of medical assistance to siblings, parents or any other family member, due to inheritance similarities.
Although there are disadvantages, there are ways to overcome these challenges and we mention these below.
Because of the limited volume of cord blood available from the source, most adults cannot be treated with the number of stem cells collected at birth. Therefore the expansion of cord blood and tissue stem cells have now provided an increased usage of cord stem cells in general.
Refers to the treatment of the same child with his/her own stem cells. The only drawback is when a child has a genetic diseases or blood cancer because the stem cells will then carry the same genetic makeup and cannot be used. In this case it is recommended to store sibling cord stem cells in the event that the sibling stem cells can be used.
Though, the cord blood banking is related with the easier collection but immediate collection at the time of birth of a baby is necessary. It is recommended that parents make informed decisions and plan long before birth. Therefore CryoSave offers Emergency Kits at most hospitals to assist with this “on the spur of the moment” decision in some families.
The cord blood stem cells show slow grafting due to the fact that the white blood cells appear later in grafting from cord blood as compared to stem cells from bone marrow transplantation. This can be improved by double unit transplants or by also expansion of cord stem cell grafts ex vivo (outside the body) to increase the cell dose.
The use of cord blood and tissue has restraints due to ethical issues, but these are overcome by clinical trials that are demonstrating the value of these precious stem cells in the treatment of many diseases; i.e. autism, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many more.