About Cord Blood Stem Cells
Cord Blood Stem Cells
What is Cord Blood?
Umbilical cord blood is the blood that circulates in the embryo via the placenta and umbilical cord. During delivery, the blood remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta is rich in stem cells (HSC).
Specifically, the cord blood is rich in hematopoietic stem cells, which can differentiate into red and white cells and platelets of the blood and immune system. During life, hematopoietic stem cells are identified in peripheral blood and bone marrow. The hematopoietic stem cells of the umbilical cord though excel the adult bone marrow stem cells because:
- They can be Isolated painlessly and safely
- They are pluripotent stem cells thus they can differentiate into many different types of cells much more efficiently
- Their quality is better as they have not suffered environmental effects and aging phenomena
- They are 99% compatible transplant for the child itself while having a greater probability of successful transplantation to parents and siblings because they have a lesser risk of developing graft versus host disease (GVHD) than bone marrow cells
Why cord blood is a major source of stem cells?
Stem cells from umbilical cord blood excel other types of stem cells (bone marrow and peripheral blood) for the following reasons:
- Cord blood is undoubtedly a rich source of stem cells
- Stem cells of the umbilical cord is now used to treat more than 60 serious diseases
- Stem cells of umbilical cord blood have been successfully used to treat both children and adults
- Stem cells derived from a family member (e.g. a brother), is always the best option
- There is 99% compatibility (HLA compatibility) for the child in the case of an autologous transplantation. This means that there is no rejection nor graft-versus-host -disease (GVHD)
- Experimentally there is the opportunity of proliferation of these cells.
What makes these cells so special?
Hematopoietic stem cells from umbilical cord blood are unique because of their increased ability to give rise to other cell types. In fact, these cells are unique and have three main features:
They are undifferentiated, they may under specific conditions to differentiate into more specialized cell types and have longer telomeres than other cell types. The cryopreservation of stem cells from umbilical cord somehow stops their biological clock and protects them from damage that due to various causes, such as aging, viral infections, as well as the environment itself (radiation, environmental pollution, etc).