After child birth, the umbilical cord is considered as a biological waste but it is the richest source of hematopoietic stem cells. The umbilical cord stem cells are unique, pure and have the ability to renew and repair other body cells.
The umbilical cord stem cells have the potential to treat over 80 medical conditions. If preserved properly, these stem cells are viable even after decades. They have the potential to treat congenital heart diseases, hematopoietic diseases, genetic conditions, neurodegenerative diseases etc. The future potential of umbilical cord stem cells is promising in the fields of emerging therapies and clinical trials.
Yes. Cord blood stem cells are better, due to the following reasons:
- As cord blood stem cells are not exposed to pathogens, they are pristine (pure) and pose a lower risk of viral contamination, when compared to the stem cells of other sources like bone marrow.
- Cord blood stem cells are more powerful and have high multiplying capacity.
- Cord blood stem cells are immunologically immature as they are biologically younger. Thus they offer better matching ability in HLA matching by preventing graft-host disease (transplant rejection) during transplantation treatment.
- Collecting the cord blood cells is a non invasive, painless procedure while extracting bone marrow stem cells is an invasive and painful process.
Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) is a protein present on the surface of the WBCs, used as markers by the immune system to identify foreign cells. It is crucial that the donor cells containing the HLA molecules should match with the patient for the transplant to be successful. As cord blood stem cells are immunologically immature, it has better HLA matching between a donor and a patient.
Umbilical cord stem cells have the potential to treat the baby as well as its siblings for various medical conditions. The stored stem cells are readily available for treatments and have enormous potential to improve the lives of patients. Preserving these stem cells is a onetime investment but it offers protection for a lifetime.
Umbilical cord stem cells have no expiry date. Hence, it can be preserved for decades till the need arises.
The umbilical cord stem cells have the potential to treat medical conditions such as
- Bone marrow diseases
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Sickle cell disease
- Immune system related disorders
- Metabolic disorders such as Krabbe disease, Hurler syndrome etc.
- Bone marrow cancer etc.
Stem cell therapy has a promising future in the fields of regenerative medicine and emerging therapies for serious injuries, genetic conditions, metabolic disorders etc. There are various clinical trials being undertaken around the world to treat medical conditions using stem cell therapy, some of which are:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Alzheimers disease
- Brain and spinal cord injuries
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Crohn's disease
- Knee cartilage repair
- Ischemic stroke and many more.
At present, we can use the preserved unit only once. In future, if expansion protocol is available for cord blood stem cells, it can be used for multiple times.
Yes, but HLA matching is required for the transplant.