What Are Stem Cells?
Stem Cells are the master cells which act as basic building blocks of different organs and tissues in our body. They are different from other cells in two aspects.
1. Self-renewal: Stem cells are capable of dividing by making numerous copies of themselves (cell-division).
2. Differentiation: Stem cells have the ability to transform into various specialized cells under different physiological or experimental conditions such as muscle cells, red blood cells, or nerve cells.
What is Stem Cell Banking?
Stem Cell Banking or Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Banking is the process of extracting, processing & storing your newborn’s cord blood stem cellsin a repository. These cells have the ability to regenerate several specialised cells and therefore, can then be harnessed in the treatment of 80+ life-threatening disorders.
Why Are Stem Cells So Important?
Researchers have focused primarily on embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells for their unique characteristics. Stem cells play an important role not only in the early growth period of the embryo but also in the later part of life. For instance, in embryo, the inner lining of the cells in the blastocyst gives rise to specialised organs and tissues such as heart, lungs, and skin. Whereas, in adults, the stem cells do regular repair work to replace cells damaged by injury, disease, or wear and tear.
Moreover, because of this regenerative property, the stem cells have shown promise in the treatment of many diseases. For instance, the stem cells obtained from cord blood have found use in the treatment of more than 80 diseases. These hematopoietic stem cells are capable of developing into different blood cell types to replace diseased cells, curing forms of cancers such as lymphoma and leukaemia. Cord blood banking, therefore, has gained great interest from parents who want to preserve their child’s stem cells for future medical use.
How Do Stem Cells Work?
When parts of our body or its functions are damaged or affected by aging, injury or illness, these stem cells have the ability to both replace affected cells and/or repair the affected parts and restore the normal functions of our body.
Unique Properties of Stem Cells
All stem cells share three unique features:
- These cells are unspecialized.
- These cells are capable of developing into specialized cells.
- These cells also have the ability to renew and divide themselves for longer periods.
It has been observed that embryonic stem cells respond to external chemical and physical signals when differentiating into specialized cells. Moreover, adult stem cells can generate only the type of cell in the tissue they are present. For instance, hematopoietic stem cells in bone marrow can develop into different types of blood cells, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. However, these stem cells cannot develop into a heart cell or a nerve cell. This limitation thus hinders the use of adult stem cells in the treatment of many diseases when compared to embryonic stem cells. However, it has been observed recently that adult stem cells can differentiate to other types of cell types.
What are the types of stem cells? Where are they found?
Stem cells are derived from several sources.
Adult stem cells: These tissue-specific somatic stem cells can be found in different body tissues and are present since the time of early growth and development of the embryo. These stem cells are present in the brain, bone marrow, skeletal muscles, skin, liver, blood, and blood vessels. They are non-specialized but have the ability to renew themselves to repair the tissue in case of an injury or a disease. For instance, adult stem cells present in the skin help to heal the wound and those present in the liver help to repair the organ after any damage.
Embryonic stem cells: These stem cells are present inside the cell lining of the blastocyst (4 to 5 days old embryo). Because of the ethical considerations, the research involving embryonic stem cells is restrictive. The embryonic stem cells are capable of developing into all kinds of specialized cells.
Mesenchymal stem cells: These stem cells are obtained from the stroma or the connective tissue that surrounds tissues and organs. They are capable of producing new tissues such as bone, cartilage, and fat cells. However, researchers haven’t fully understood these cells and, therefore, their benefits are still not widely discussed.
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC): These stem cellsare genetically engineered in labs by researchers. They are produced from tissue-specific adult stem cells. Various factors are manipulated to force these adult stem cells to express characteristics like embryonic stem cells. There is no difference between the properties of iPSCs and embryonic stem cells. Researchers are exploring the potential benefits these stem cells can offer.
Classification of stem cells based on their potency
Stem cells are classified based on their ability to differentiate into specialized cells. This classification includes:
Totipotent: These stem cells have the ability to differentiate into all cell types in the body, in addition, to extraembryonic, or placental, cells. Embryonic cells after a few initial divisions post-fertilization are the only totipotent stem cells.
Pluripotent: These stem cells can differentiate into all cell types in the body except placental or extra-embryonic cells. Embryonic stem cells found in the early embryo are considered pluripotent.
Multipotent: These stem cells have limitations in terms of differentiation and can develop into closely related cells. For instance, hematopoietic stem cells can transform into white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
Oligopotent: Thesestem cells have the ability to differentiate into only a few cell types. For instance, adult lymphoid or myeloid stem cells fall in this category.
Unipotent: These stem cells can only develop into one kind of a cell. However, they have the ability to self-renew themselves when needed. Adult muscle stem cells are considered unipotent.
What Is The Role Of Stem Cells In Today’s Healthcare?
Today, stem cells have the ability to treat over 80 blood related medical conditions such as Thalassemia, Lymphoma, Leukemia, Multiple Myeloma, Neuroblastoma, etc.,
Over 500 clinical trials for conditions such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Stroke, Diabetes are currently underway increasing the scope of future treatments.
What Is The Probability Of Being Diagnosed Of A Condition Treatable By Stem Cells?
Every individual has a 5% probability of being diagnosed with a condition treatable by stem cells. Hence for a family of 8 members that includes the child, siblings, parents and grandparents,there is a high probability of 40% for the family members to be diagnosed with a condition that requires stem cells for its treatment.
1 in 217 will undergo a stem cell transplant by the age of 70 years
The Application Of Stem Cells In Medicine
Because of their ability to self-renew and differentiate into different cell types, stem cells have found applications in the treatment of various diseases. Cord blood stem cells are one of the most widely used stem cells for this purpose. The research breakthroughs in regenerative medicine and stem cell-based treatments have caught everyone’s attention alike.
Stem cells are being successfully used and studied for further use in the following areas.
1.Tissue regeneration: Stem cells find use in repair and restoration of damaged tissues or organs in case of severe injuries and chronic diseases.
2.Disease treatment: These remarkable stem cells have the potential to treat various medical conditions. These include forms of blood cancers as well as various genetic, immune, and metabolic disorders. For instance, the FDA has approved the treatment of over 80 diseases using cord blood stem cells.
3.Cardiovascular tissue repair: Stem cells are being researched to repair damaged heart muscle cells after a heart attack or heart disease.
4.Blood disease treatment: Stem cells have the ability to replace diseased blood cells to restore blood and immune systems.
5.Nerve cell replacement/repair: Research is focused to replace damaged nerve cells in patients with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and more.
With ongoing research and developments in the field of stem cells, treatment of various debilitating ailments shows promising results.
Possibilities Growing Day By Day
At Present, Stem Cells are used in treating over 80 medical conditions
Stem Cell Banking FAQ's
Stem cell basics
- What are stem cells?
- What are the sources of stem cells?
- What is umbilical cord & umbilical cord blood?
- What are the types of stem cells?
- In what way are the umbilical cord blood stem cells different from the umbilical cord stem cells?
- How are umbilical cord stem cells different from bone marrow stem cells?
- What is Stem Cell banking?
- What is Cord Blood Banking?
- Can cord blood be used for disease treatment
- What are alternatives to Stem cell banking?
- What are the benefits of cord blood banking?
- Can you use cord blood for siblings?
- Is it worth storing stem cells?
- Why should you bank cord blood?
- What is the difference between cord blood and cord tissue?
- How much does stem cell banking cost in India?
- What is the goal of stem cell therapy?
- What is stem cell therapy and how does it work?
- What are the side effects of stem cell therapy?
- Can stem cells cure autism?
- What is HLA-matching?
- What is the meaning of viability and potency of stem cells?
- Why should I bank my baby’s stem cells?
- Will the stored stem cells be able to help the rest of my family?
- How long can the stem cells be preserved?
- What is the differnce between cord blood and cord tissue?
- Why should I have save my baby's cord blood and tissue?
- How successful are transplants?
- How might cord blood transplants be used in the future?
- Who can use the cord blood? Can it benefit other children or family members?
- Is there a fee to retrieve and use your cord blood if needed?
Processing and Storing Stem cells
- How does early processing help improve the quality of stem cells?
- Does the quantity of collected cord & cord blood matter?
- When and how is the cord blood collected during child birth?
- Is the collection procedure risky, painful or time consuming?
- What do I do with the collection kit once I receive it?
- What happens to the cord and cord blood after it is collected?
- Are my baby's stem cells being stored in vials or bags?
- How do you evaluate the sample?
- Where and how are the stem cells stored?
- Who will collect my baby’s cord and cord blood?
- If I wish to migrate, can I shift my stem cells to another stem cell bank?
- Stem cell banking process: Enroll, collect, transport,Process preserve
- Banking process: Delayed Cord Clamping
- How is cord blood processed?
- What are my options for my baby's umbilical cord blood and tissue?
- What are Cryo-Cell's history and affiliations?
- What are your accreditations?
- How do I get a collection kit, and what do I do with it once it arrives?
- What documentation will I receive upon preservation?
- How do I stay up to date on the latest stem cell and Cryo-Cell news?
Why bank with LifeCell
- How much does LifeCell cost?
- What is LifeCell Stem Cell banking?
- Is there a cost to retrieve my baby's cord and cord blood stem cells if I need them in the future?
- Will I be notified when my stem cells are processed and stored?
- How and when do I have to register with Lifecell?