With cord blood stem cell transplants already having
changed and saved thousands of lives around the world, opting to bank cord blood and
tissue stem cells gives new parents the opportunity to take some
responsibility for the future health of their new baby and potentially the
health of their family.
Cord blood stem cells are already being used to
treat more than 75 diseases, including numerous types of malignancies,
anaemias, inherited metabolic disorders and deficiencies of the immune system.
As cord blood stem cells will remain a perfect match for your child, they
are potentially the best investment parents can make when it comes to the
future health of their child.
When it comes to blood cancers and other blood disorders,
blood stem cell transplants have been the standard of care for more than 50
years and is in some instances, curative.
And while on the surface
this may seem a viable solution, South Africa, despite its diverse
ethnic make-up, has no public cord blood stem cell bank, which makes the
likelihood of finding a matching donor challenging.
Erna West, General
Manager for Salveo Swiss Biotechnology, says for 70% of patients who need a unrelated donor to treat
one of these diseases, the only course of action would be to approach the South
African Bone Marrow Registry to find a possible stem cell match.
is no guarantee that a match will be found and the search for a possible match
can be debilitating to a family’s finances and hope for recovery. In addition,
delays and the high costs involved, could hamper the success of the stem cell
It is for this reason that West
says more and more attention is being devoted to educating
prospective parents regarding the life-saving potential of collecting and
storing stem cells from the umbilical cord and blood.
advantage of stem cells obtained from umbilical cord blood is that they are
less likely than bone marrow stem cells to be rejected in transplants.
Considered to be immunologically immature, umbilical cord blood stem cells
produce significantly fewer natural killer cells, meaning there is much less
chance of rejection or Graft versus host disease (GvHD).
Read: Stem cells used to treat macular degeneration
because cord blood stem cells require less rigorous tissue matching for
transplants than bone marrow stem cells, the chances of finding an adequate
sibling or unrelated match is significantly higher. Another major advantage is
that cord blood stem cells are immediately available for transplantation,
without delaying the treatment process,” she comments.
When it comes to the benefits of cord tissue, West
explains that cord tissue mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) are younger and
considered a superior resource when compared to bone marrow MSCs as they have a
greater ability to multiply and differentiate when compared to their older
“The umbilical cord is naturally crucial to the life of a
baby in the womb, however following delivery, it is often discarded without
considering it’s potentially lifesaving benefits. Here scientists are quickly
discovering that the tissue of the umbilical cord could become a vital
component to the future treatment of many diseases that have mystified the
healthcare industry for decades.
Read: Eye cells created from stem cells
West says that mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy is
currently being used in more than 500 clinical trials in the USA to treat
chronic diseases like diabetes, and the fact that cord tissue could become a
vital component to the future treatment of many diseases is yet another reason
parents should consider banking cord blood and tissue.
“Stem cells provide nearly limitless potential for medical
applications because they can replicate any tissue found in the body and could
potentially also be used someday to replace or repair tissue damaged by disease
or injury,” she concludes.
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