Cord blood storage for private and public use is a smart move for the future. It’s a proven disease treatment option. Other uses are being researched, and clinical trials look promising. Stem Cells from cord blood benefits the donor, the donor’s family, and the public.
What Is Cord Blood?
Cord blood is the blood from a newborn’s umbilical cord and placenta. At the time of birth, a doctor extracts the blood. There is no risk to either the mother or the child.
People collect the blood because it contains stem cells. Stem cells are the building blocks in the blood, and they have the ability to transform into different cells. They can use for repair of blood tissue and organs. Cord blood has been used to treat over 70 different diseases. These include Leukemia, Sickle Cell Disease and Osteopetrosis.
If a family decides to save the blood, they have two options: they can store it for private use in a family blood bank or donate it to a public cord blood bank. The blood is then cryopreserved.
Benefactors of Family Cord Blood
In certain situations, the cord blood can be used to treat the donor. This is known as. Their donated stem cells are used to repair their body. It can be used for illnesses such as aplastic anemia. Autologous use is mainly an emerging field though.
More commonly, someone else’s blood is needed for treatment. This is allogeneic use. It’s necessary in cases where the body is creating the wrong cells, as is the case with cancer. The diseases causing the problem would be within the stem cells. Using the donors own blood would be inserting cells with the same sickness.
Cord blood can be used for siblings though. A healthy sibling would not carry the disease within their blood. Studies show that treatments that use cord blood from a sibling or other family member are twice as likely to work as blood from strangers. In storing cord blood for each child, parents are storing protection for their other children.
Benefits for Non-Relatives
If a family didn’t store the cord blood, it’s still possible to get the stem cell treatment. The stem cells come from the public cord blood banks. Families sign away their rights to the cord blood, leaving it open for unrelated people. Be the Match registry lists cord blood units. Doctor can access this registry to treat their patient.
Even for non-relatives, cord blood works well for transfusion. The stem cells do not mature enough to attack foreign substances. This lessens the chance of a transfusion rejection.
The benefits of cord blood have not been fully realized. Scientists are studying how cord blood can be used in the treatment of autism, diabetes and congenital heart defects. A number of studies focus on autologous use of the stem cells in cord blood. At this point, a number of benefits are still within the stage of clinical trials.