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They aren’t the only ones questioning the business practices of private cord-blood banks. Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued statements in the late 1990s opposing the use of for-profit banks — and criticizing their marketing tactics. Instead, they recommended that parents donate cord blood to public banks, which make it available for free to anyone who needs it. Globally, other organizations have done the same. Italy and France have banned private cord-blood banking altogether.
Umbilical cord blood is useful for research. For example, researchers are investigating ways to grow and multiply haematopoietic (blood) stem cells from cord blood so that they can be used in more types of treatments and for adult patients as well as children. Cord blood can also be donated altruistically for clinical use. Since 1989, umbilical cord blood transplants have been used to treat children who suffer from leukaemia, anaemias and other blood diseases.
Today, cord blood stems cells are used in the treatment of nearly 80 diseases, including a wide range of cancers, genetic diseases, and blood disorders.2 In a cord blood transplant, stem cells are infused in to a patient’s bloodstream where they go to work healing and repairing damaged cells and tissue. When a transplant is successful, a healthy new immune system has been created.
Parents often complain about cord blood banking costs. This is not an industry where costs can be cut by running a turn-key operation. Each cord blood unit must be individually tested and processed by trained technicians working in a medical laboratory.
When you bank your child’s cord blood with ViaCord, your child will have access to stem cells that are a perfect genetic match. Some cancers like neuroblastoma are autologous treatments. Ongoing regenerative medicine clinical trials are using a child’s own stem cells for conditions like autism and cerebral palsy. 104, 109 To date, of the 400+ families that have used their cord blood 44% were for regenerative medicine research.
It depends on who you ask. Although commercial cord blood banks often bill their services as “biological insurance” against future diseases, the blood doesn’t often get used. One study says the chance that a child will use their cord blood over their lifetime is between 1 in 400 and 1 in 200,000.
In the event your child becomes seriously ill, develops a genetic disorder, illness affecting the immune system or blood-related disease, we ask that you notify the cord blood bank as this could impact the patient receiving your cord blood donation. Contact us for information »
While cord-blood companies herald the possible future treatments of many adult diseases with stem cells, they rarely mention a key issue. Researchers have greater hopes for the potential of embryonic stem cells, which are thought to have the ability to develop into many different types of cells. It is not known whether the stem cells in cord blood have that ability; until recently, it was thought that they (like those in bone marrow) could only regenerate blood and immune cells.
Because the body’s immune system is designed to find and get rid of what it believes to be outside contaminants, stem cells and other cells of the immune system cannot be transfused into just anyone. For stem cell transfusions of any type, the body’s immune system can mistakenly start attacking the patient’s own body. This is known as graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) and is a big problem post-transplant. GvHD can be isolated and minimal, but it can also be acute, chronic and even deadly.
The members of the team at CORD:USE are credited for discovering the field of cord blood banking and transplantation. With more than 150 years of combined knowledge and experience, our team members are universally recognized as pioneers and leading experts in the field.
Banking cord blood is a new type of medical protection, and there are a lot of questions that parents may want to ask. The Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood organization even has questions it believes all parents should ask their cord blood banks. We have answers to these and other frequently asked cord blood questions in our FAQs. If you can’t find the answer for which you are looking, please feel free to engage one of our cord blood educators through the website’s chat interface.
Though uses of cord blood beyond blood and immunological disorders is speculative, some research has been done in other areas. Any such potential beyond blood and immunological uses is limited by the fact that cord cells are hematopoietic stem cells (which can differentiate only into blood cells), and not pluripotent stem cells (such as embryonic stem cells, which can differentiate into any type of tissue). Cord blood has been studied as a treatment for diabetes. However, apart from blood disorders, the use of cord blood for other diseases is not in routine clinical use and remains a major challenge for the stem cell community.
We believe that every family should have the opportunity to preserve their baby’s newborn stem cells. That’s why CBR offers transparent costs of cord blood banking, and various payment options to fit this important step into almost every family budget.
Complicating matters further, each public bank has its own registry, so transplant centers must search many different databases to find a match for a patient. Currently, a Caucasian patient has an 88 percent chance of finding a cord-blood match through a public-bank registry, and minorities have a 58 percent chance. (Collection hospitals tend to be in areas with higher rates of Caucasian births, and parents from certain ethnic groups are wary of donating for religious or cultural reasons.)
Each cord blood bank has different directions for returning the consent form. Some banks may ask you to mail the consent form along with the health history forms or to bring the original consent form with you to the hospital. Other banks may have you finish the form at the hospital. Follow the directions from your public cord blood bank.
Let the birthing staff know you’re donating cord blood. They will either have a kit sent to them from the private bank, or have the necessary equipment on location. Your bank should have already spoken with your doctor and the birthing staff on proper cord blood collections procedures, but you want to make sure everyone there knows to collect the umbilical cord after birth.
MSCs and MSC-like cells are useful multipotent stem cells that are found in many tissues. While MSCs can be isolated from adults via peripheral blood, adipose tissue, or bone marrow apiration, MSCs derived from the discarded umbilical cord offer a low-cost, pain-free collection method of MSCs that may be cryogenically stored (banked) along with the umbilical cord blood sample. From the umbilical cord, isolation of cells from the Wharton’s jelly has the greatest potential for banking, presently, because the most cells can be isolated consistently. The challenge for the future is to define industrial-grade procedures for isolation and cryopreservation of umbilical cord-derived MSCs and to generate Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved standard operating procedures (SOPs) to enable translation of laboratory protocols into clinical trials. This represents a paradigm shift from what has been done with umbilical cord blood banking because the cord blood cells do not require much in the way of processing for cryopreservation or for transplantation (relatively). For such a challenge to be met, researchers in the field of umbilical cord-derived MSC need to organize and reach consensus on the characterization, freezing/thawing, and expansion of clinical-grade cells for therapies and tissue engineering. Thus, more and more umbilical cord stem cells can be diverted from the biohazardous waste bag and into the clinic, where their lifesaving potential can be realized.
Sign a consent form to donate. This consent form says that the donated cord blood may be used by any patient needing a transplant. If the cord blood cannot be used for transplantation, it may be used in research studies or thrown away. These studies help future patients have a more successful transplant.
* Annual storage fees will be charged automatically to the credit/debit card on file, on or around your baby’s birthday, unless you’ve chosen a prepay option and are subject to change until they are paid.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston is conducting a pioneering FDA-regulated phase I/II clinical trial to compare the safety and effectiveness of two forms of stem cell therapy in children diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study aims to compare the safety and efficacy of an intravenous infusion of autologous cord blood stem cells to bone marrow stem cells.
Stem cells are the next frontier in medicine. Stem cells are thought to have great therapeutic and biotechnological potential. This will not only to replace damaged or dysfunctional cells, but also rescue them and/or deliver therapeutic proteins after they have been engineered to do so. Currently, ethical and scientific issues surround both embryonic and fetal stem cells and hinder their widespread implementation. In contrast, stem cells recovered postnatally from the umbilical cord, including the umbilical cord blood cells, amnion/placenta, umbilical cord vein, or umbilical cord matrix cells, are a readily available and inexpensive source of cells that are capable of forming many different cell types (i.e., they are “multipotent”). This review will focus on the umbilical cord-derived stem cells and compare those cells with adult bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells.
Once considered medical waste, the blood left in the umbilical cord after a baby’s delivery is now known to be a rich source of stem cells similar to those in bone marrow. It’s been used in transplants to treat more than 70 different diseases including leukemia, lymphoma, sickle-cell disease, and some metabolic disorders. Unlike with marrow, which is obtained through a painful medical procedure and replenished by the body, there’s only one chance to collect this seemingly magical elixir: immediately after a baby’s birth.
In this way, cord blood offers a useful alternative to bone marrow transplants for some patients. It is easier to collect than bone marrow and can be stored frozen until it is needed. It also seems to be less likely than bone marrow to cause immune rejection or complications such as Graft versus Host Disease. This means that cord blood does not need to be as perfectly matched to the patient as bone marrow (though some matching is still necessary).
In Europe and other parts of the world, cord blood banking is more often referred to as stem cell banking. As banking cord blood is designed more to collect the blood-forming stem cells and not the actual blood cells themselves, this term may be more appropriate.
The majority of programs that accept cord blood donations require the mother to sign up in advance. In the united States, the current requirement is to sign up by the 34th week of pregnancy. This cannot be over-stressed; time and time again, mothers who want to donate are turned away because they did not inquire about donation until it was too late.
To learn more about umbilical cord blood and banking please watch Banking on cord blood, Cord blood – banking and uses, Cord blood transplantation – how stem cells can assist in the treatment of cancer in our video library.
Operating both a family and public bank, CORD:USE cord blood units have been used in more transplants in the past 9 years than the two largest family cord blood banks have been involved in over their combined past 43 years of business2,3.
Another type of cell that can also be collected from umbilical cord blood are mesenchymal stromal cells. These cells can grown into bone, cartilage and other types of tissues and are being used in many research studies to see if patients could benefit from these cells too.
In contrast, although there are several reports of pluripotent cells being isolated from adults (13–17), this work is in need of independent verification. Such verification is important because an alternative source of pluripotent cells, cells derived from adults, offers the best of both worlds: pluripotent cells for therapeutics and cells that are collected with consent from adults (no controversy there). Two such cell types are discussed briefly later.
Of course, this means that expectant parents will have one more choice to make about their child’s health and future. “I certainly don’t think parents should feel guilty if they don’t privately bank their child’s blood,” Dr. Kurtzberg says. The best choice is the one that works for your family.
In the body, stem cells live in specialized “niches,” microenvironments included stem cell support cells and extracellular matrix. The niche microenvironment regulates the growth and differentiation of stem cells (4–6). Understanding the role of the various “support” cells and the environment of the niche is helpful for in vitro manipulation and maintenance of stem cell populations. For example, a normal atmospheric oxygen concentration of 21% is relatively toxic to stem cells, and growth in “hyoxic” conditions of 2–3% oxygen is preferred (7). Other components of the niche, such as the extracellular matrix and growth and angiogenic factors, play a role in stem cell regulation. Understanding the stem cell microenviornment is rapidly unfolding and is an important topic which, however, is beyond the scope of this article.
Unlike some other cord blood banks, Cryo-Cell does not charge any upfront enrollment fees. You’ll be charged only after your baby’s cord blood and cord tissue have been processed and we’ve confirmed that the collection meets our high standards for viability and the number of stem cells. If for any reason your collection falls below our standards, we will notify you promptly and let you make a decision whether to continue to cryo-preserve your baby’s stem cells. Our processing fees include the first year of storage. After the first year, you can continue to pay for the storage annually or pre-pay for storage at a significantly discounted price and for added convenience. Our annual storage fees are fixed for the life of your contract.
MSCs are reported to have immune-suppressive effects. To comment human fetal and adult MSCs are not inherently immunostimulatory in vitro and fail to induce proliferation of allogeneic lymphocytes (37–39; for review, see ref. 40). In one human case, fully mismatched allogeneic fetal liver-derived MSCs were transplanted into an immunocompetent fetus with osteogenesis imperfecta in the third trimester of gestation (41). No immunoreactivity was observed when patient lymphocytes were re-exposed to the graft in vitro, indicating that MSCs can be tolerated when transplanted across MHC barriers in humans. Similarly, after intrauterine transplantation of human MSCs into sheep, the cells persisted long-term and differentiated along multiple mesenchymal lineages (42). Instead, the cells are immunosuppressive and reduce lymphocyte proliferation and the formation of cytotoxic T-cells and natural killer cells when present in mixed lymphocyte cultures. The mechanism whereby MSCs suppress lymphocyte proliferation is still largely unknown but appears to, at least in part, be mediated by a soluble factor. Several factors, including MSC-produced prostaglandin E2, indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase-mediated tryptophan depletion, transforming growth factor-β1, and hepatocyte growth factor have been proposed to mediate the suppression, but the data remain controversial.
The unpredictability of stem cell transportation led CBR to create a crush-resistant, temperature-protected, and electronically tracked collection kit that is designed to preserve the integrity and to help ensure the safe delivery of the blood and/or tissue. CBR’s CellAdvantage® Collection Kit contains everything the healthcare provider needs to easily and safely collect the maximum amount of a newborn’s cord blood following birth.
CBR uses the AutoExpress automated processing method. AutoExpress (AXP) reduces the chance of human error and provides consistent results in the reduction of certain blood components. It also provides quick and accurate data tracking. Cord Blood Registry is the only cord blood bank to have adopted the AXP processing method.
Genes: Segments of DNA that contain instructions for the development of a person’s physical traits and control of the processes in the body. They are the basic units of heredity and can be passed down from parent to offspring.
Just like other blood donations, there is no cost to the donor of cord blood. If you do not choose to store your baby’s blood, please consider donating it. Your donation could make a difference in someone else’s life.