Stem Cells Derived From Umbilical Cord Banking Have Great Potential to Treat Rare Diseases

July 20, 2012

Learn the facts about umbilical cord blood banking

Umbilical cord blood banking involves harvesting the blood from a newborn’s umbilical cord at the time of birth, to store for possible medical use in the future. The procedure is painless to mother and infant and needs to be carried out immediately following the birth. The cord blood is then stored cryogenically in a specialized facility until it is required.

Advances in medical research over recent years discovered that the blood in the umbilical cord contains precious stem cells, powerful cells which have yet to be assigned a particular role and that can be utilized in the development of various new cells such as platelets, (essential in blood clotting), red blood cells (vital oxygen carriers) and white blood cells (powerful fighters against foreign bodies and disease.)

The benefits of cord blood banking

Stem cells are the golden bullets of recent medical advances and their adaptability makes them a potentially powerful weapon in the fight against a number of serious health conditions. Increasingly, parents are opting to collect cord blood when their newborn arrives to act as a kind of insurance policy against future health problems, not only for the baby, but for siblings and other close relatives as well.

How do I arrange to have my baby’s cord blood collected?

Arrangements for cord blood collection need to be made in advance of the baby’s birth – by around the 34th week of pregnancy. The doctor and blood bank of choice need to be notified so that medical operatives can be on hand at the time of birth to obtain the cord blood and ensure its safe storage. Parents can also opt to donate cord blood to a public bank for use in medical research or in other medical applications using the stem cells. The umbilical cord and the blood it contains are ordinarily considered a medical waste product and the ethical questions surrounding embryonic stem cells are not an issue here.

Public donation of cord blood.

Parents who choose not to bank cord blood privately still have the option to donate it to a public bank to benefit others and assist with vital medical research. Donating umbilical cord blood to a public bank costs nothing, is a selfless act and could prove a wonderful gift of hope for a sick child or adult.

Which illnesses can be treated with cord blood?

Established cord blood uses in the treatment of genetic diseases and blood cancers such as leukemia are being widened out into other areas of research. At present stem cell research is in an exciting and dynamic phase and work is being carried out on regenerative applications. This vital area could potentially assist with serious health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, injuries to the spinal cord and heart defects – although at an early stage, the research looks promising.

Other clinical trials and research taking place on patients with existing conditions show positive indications where stem cells from cord blood slow the progress of certain diseases. Although there is still very much to learn about the scope of stem cell applications, optimism surrounds emerging therapies being trialed on patients with a range of conditions, such as Traumatic Brain Injury, Cerebral Palsy, Crohn’s disease, Neonatal Oxygen Deprivation, Type 1 Diabetes, Lupus and Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

Guest Blogger:  Alexandra Maxwell is a freelance writer who writes in between her many college classes. She is currently researching and studying a range of female health issues – and currently she has a particular interest in the medical uses of cord blood.

Article Sources:
My Baby Experience
Cord Blood Chronicles
Cord Blood Banks in USA

As with all guest blog submissions, the views and opinions expressed on this guest blog are purely the bloggers’ own and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of Global Genes / R.A.R.E. Project.  Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the provider or party in question.

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