Why Store Stem Cells
Stem Cells Storage
During delivery we have the unique opportunity to collect stem cells from the blood and tissue of the umbilical cord
What are the characteristics of cord stem cells that make them capable to treat a disease, such as lymphoma;
The capability of these cells to regenerate themselves constantly, allows their use in the treatment of serious diseases. In case of lymphomas or other forms of cancer, the damaged body cells by chemotherapy or radiotherapy should be removed. The cord blood stem cells are injected intravenously
to the patient. These cells reconstitute the hematopoietic immune system and they maintain it
for many years.
Autologous is the transplantation where the stem cells are transplanted to the same individual from which they were harvested.
Thousands of autologous stem cells transplantations take place each year to patients suffering from serious diseases such as lymphoma, myeloma or other forms of cancer. Medical researches published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, state that stem cells of the child can be used for autologous transplantation even in diseases that occur very early in life (within 12 months of birth). Cord blood stem cells harvested from the child have significant advantages over stem cells derived from other people. For example:
- There is a reduced risk of graft versus host disease (GVHD), the main cause of death is stem cells transplantation
- Immediate availability
- Reduced risk of the cells to be infected with some disease
For cancer development, multiple mutations in the DNA in the cells (that bears our genetic identity – Knudson, 1971) are required. Usually the first mutation occurs in a cell, but it will take two or more mutations (corresponding to a number of genes) for the cell to differentiate to cancer cell and subsequently metastatic. Usually persons who are predisposed to some form of cancer, they already bear the first mutation. But if there are no subsequent mutations then the cell will never become cancer cell.
In April 2001 the first autologous cord blood stem cells transplantation was effected in an 11 months old infant, who was suffering from retinoblastoma (eye cancer) metastasized to the spinal cord. His own stem cells, collected at birth, proved his best hope for survival.
In conclusion, umbilical cord stem cells do not contain malignancies; they are healthy cells. For this reason they may often be used for autologous transplantation in patients suffering from malignant diseases.
All future parents should be informed about the advantages of stem cells storage from umbilical cord blood. The opportunity for the collection of these cells is limited, since the collection can only be done immediately after delivery, so once in a person’s liftime. Before the child’s birth parents must know the family medical history (if there are relatives suffered from a serious disease that can be transferred hereditary, such as leukemia, cancer, anemia, etc.). In this case, the storage of stem cells is even more appropriate for two reasons. First, these cells have high tissue compatibility with first-degree relatives and thus can be used directly for the treatment of a family member. Also, these cells can be used if the hereditary disease occur in the future in the same child or other family member.
Regardless of the hereditary predisposition or not to a serious disease, the storage of stem cells is indicated for every child who comes into the world, as the appearance of a severe disease depends on both environmental and hereditary factors (such as cancer not due to hereditary causes). Also future developments are leading to use of stem cells in a variety of new applications.
The child’s stem cells may be used for other family members, as long as there is relative tissue compatibility. Stem cells isolated from the umbilical cord of your baby are 99% compatible transplantation for the child, they have 50% tissue-compatibility with parents and 25% chance of absolute tissue-compatibility with siblings. Elevated possibility of tissue-compatibility exists for other relatives. Compared with other traditional sources of stem cells – such as the bone marrow – the cells from umbilical cord can be used even when there is little compatibility between donor and recipient. The transplantation of cord stem cells in a relative has greater viability and reduced possibility of serious complications in comparison with the transplantations derived from other sources.
It is known that the viability of stem cells is maintained unaltered in the conditions where they are stored. In fact, in conditions of -196°C (+/-) the biological clock of the cells stops. This means that every metabolic activity stops. Currently there is no scientific proof that these cells lose their viability after 20 years. In the contrary, cells stored in 1979 in respective conditions of temperature and nutrients, have kept their viability until today.
In which cases we cannot store the stem cells?
The storage of stem cells from cord blood and / or umbilical cord tissue is not performed when the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the samples do not fall within those defined by the Ministerial Decision (OGG 1005Β’)