Storing Cord Blood – Can We Evaluate Today the Clinical Potential?

The life-saving stem cells have gathered immense popularity in recent years, before which they were discarded as medical waste. Today, a lot of people are choosing to store their child’s cord blood for future uses in medical emergencies.

However, parents are also opting to donate it to public banks. The cord blood in public cord blood banks is matched and used in the treatment of a patient. The remaining stem cells are used for clinical trials, which benefits numerous people.

1. What is cord blood storage?

Cord blood storage refers to the process of collecting, processing, and cryo-preserving the stem cells from the umbilical cord and placenta after the delivery. The process is safe, non-invasive, and painless.

2. Explain the medical usage of cord blood banking.

The stem cells in the umbilical cord were discovered in the years 1978. After ten years, the cells were first used in transplant in 1988. Since then, the immense potential in cord blood banking has helped in the treatment of numerous life-threatening diseases.

The stem cells can treat more than eighty rare diseases. Some of these diseases include leukemia, sickle cell anemia, and many different types of cancers.

The cord blood contains hematopoietic stem cells, that can transform into any type of blood cells. The cord blood that was traditionally discarded as medical waste can now help treat patients with malignancies, hemoglobinopathies, primary immunodeficiencies, and metabolic diseases.

The stem cells are mostly used for blood disorders. However, stem cell transfusion can also be helpful in case of any disease that involves the use of chemotherapy or radiation in its treatment.

The chemotherapy can harm the immune system of the body. A stem cell transfusion in such a case can support the immune system with healthy cells, which will accelerate the recovery process.

Stem cell banking is also helpful in the treatment of relatives and siblings.

Cord blood is a preferred source of stem cells for transplant. This is mainly due to two reasons.

1. The process of collection of stem cells from the umbilical cord is a painless and convenient option.

2. The cord blood can also be used in partial matches and has proven more effective in breaching the HLA barrier when compared with non-matched bone marrow or peripheral blood HSCT transplants.

3. Explain the clinical potential of stem cells for future years.

They are many benefits of stem cell transfusion, but as per the researchers, there is potential for even more. The cord blood is a reservoir of cells with regenerative properties that promises a lot of clinical application.

Various clinical trials are being conducted to study its usage as regenerative therapy in heart diseases, diabetes, strokes, etc.

Many researchers believe that stem cell transfusion can help in treating numerous incurable diseases. Scientists are carrying out clinical trials to study the benefit of stem cells in treating ailments like cerebral palsy, autism, and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.

At the present moment, it is difficult to define the future benefits of stem cells in clear terms. However, various scientists believe that stem cells can create an unprecedented contribution to modern medicine.

The cost of cryo-preserving stem cells is a huge economic burden for public stem cell banks. In the case of private cord blood banks, the parents have to make a big investment which continues in the form of annual fees.
Therefore, researchers are also concerned about the time for which the cells remain useful for transfusion.

In the past decade, there has been a rise in successful cord blood transfusion in patients above the age of 16 years. It ensures that stem cells can be preserved for years and retain their life-saving power.

Hence, the investment in the preservation of stem cells is biological insurance that can outdo its cost in future emergencies.

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