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While donating cord blood is honorable, there is a lot people do not know about the public option. Most public cord blood banks have a limited number of collection sites, and they only retain a small number of collections because of volume and other criteria that must be met. Once cord blood is donated, it is highly unlikely that the donation can ever be attained by the donor or his or her family if the need arises. In addition, it may be hard to find another viable match from what is publically available. While donating is free, retreiving a cord blood sample from a public cord blood bank is not and pales in comparison to the overall cost of privately banking cord blood. These are just some of the reasons why privately banking cord blood may be a better option for some families.
The therapeutic potential of stem cells from the umbilical cord is vast. Cord blood is already being used in the treatment of nearly 80 life-threatening diseases,2 and researchers continue to explore it’s potential. Duke University Medical Center is currently using cord blood stem cells in a Phase II clinical trial to see if it benefits kids with Autism. The number of clinical trials using cord tissue stem cells in human patients has increased to approximately 150 since the first clinical trial in 2007. Cord tissue stem cells are also being studied for the potential use in kids with Autism – a Phase I Clinical Trial is underway.
Cord blood in public banks is available to unrelated patients who need haematopoietic stem cell transplants. Some banks, such as the NHS bank in the UK, also collect and store umbilical cord blood from children born into families affected by or at risk of a disease for which haematopoietic stem cell transplants may be necessary – either for the child, a sibling or a family member. It is also possible to pay to store cord blood in a private bank for use by your own family only.
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.
Today, many conditions may be treatable with cord blood as part of a stem cell transplant, including various cancers and blood, immune, and metabolic disorders. Preserving these cells now may provide your family potential treatment options in the future.
In a report to the HRSA Advisory Council, scientists estimated that the chances of a pediatric patient finding a cord blood donor in the existing Be the Match registry are over 90 percent for almost all ethnic groups.
There has been considerable debate about the ethical and practical implications of commercial versus public banking. The main arguments against commercial banking have to do with questions about how likely it is that the cord blood will be used by an individual child, a sibling or a family member; the existence of several well-established alternatives to cord blood transplantation and the lack of scientific evidence that cord blood may be used to treat non-blood diseases (such as diabetes and Parkinson’s disease). In some cases patients may not be able to receive their own cord blood, as the cells may already contain the genetic changes that predispose them to disease.
When doctors remove bone marrow, the patient receives anesthesia. This puts them to sleep and numbs any pain from the surgery. Doctors then insert a large needle, and pull the liquid marrow out. Once enough bone marrow is harvested, the solution is filtered and cryogenically frozen.
Today, cord blood stem cells have been used in more than 35,000 transplants worldwide to regenerate healthy blood and immune systems, like in a bone marrow transplant. 1* Find out which conditions have been treated here.
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.
The longest study to date, published in 2011 by Broxmeyer at al found that stem cells cyro-preserved for 22.5 years engrafted as expected. There was no significant loss of stem cell recovery or proliferation.
Our work has focused on human umbilical cord matrix (UCM) cells. There are cells isolated in large numbers from the Wharton’s jelly of human cords (25–28). Two other research labs have published on the isolation and characterization of cells from the Wharton’s jelly: Dr. Davies’ lab at the University of Toronto (29) and Dr. Y. S. Fu at the National Yang-Ming University, Taipei (30–32). All three groups reported that UCM cells are MSC-like cells and are robust. These cells can be isolated easily, frozen/thawed, clonally expanded, engineered to express exogenous proteins, and extensively expanded in culture. Human UCM cells express a marker of neural precursors, nestin, without exposure to differentiation signals (26,28,30). In response to differentiation signals, human UCM cells can differentiate to catecholaminergic neurons, expressing tyrosine hydroxylase TH (28,30,31). Human UCM cells meet the basic criteria established for MSCs described previously (29,32). Similarly, MSC-like cells are derived from other umbilical cord tissues, e.g., umbilical vein sub-endothelium, umbilical cord blood, amnion, placenta, and amniotic fluid (Table 1).
Private storage of one’s own cord blood is unlawful in Italy and France, and it is also discouraged in some other European countries. The American Medical Association states “Private banking should be considered in the unusual circumstance when there exists a family predisposition to a condition in which umbilical cord stem cells are therapeutically indicated. However, because of its cost, limited likelihood of use, and inaccessibility to others, private banking should not be recommended to low-risk families.” The American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also encourage public cord banking and discourage private cord blood banking. Nearly all cord blood transplantations come from public banks, rather than private banks, partly because most treatable conditions can’t use a person’s own cord blood. The World Marrow Donor Association and European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies states “The possibility of using one’s own cord blood stem cells for regenerative medicine is currently purely hypothetical….It is therefore highly hypothetical that cord blood cells kept for autologous use will be of any value in the future” and “the legitimacy of commercial cord blood banks for autologous use should be questioned as they sell a service which has presently no real use regarding therapeutic options.”
There is now compelling evidence that MSCs, guided by chemokines and other cues emanating from areas of pathology such as tumors, will “home” specifically to those areas. The supporting connective tissue stroma of a tumor is formed in a manner similar to wound healing and scar formation (64), and tumors generate signals to recruit stromal cells from contiguous regions as well as from bone marrow to sustain themselves (65,66). Because UCM stem cells are very closely related to MSCs (28), it would not be surprising to find that they also will home to tumors, and in fact such a phenomenon has been observed in preliminary experiments in our laboratory (unpublished observations). The exact signals that recruit transplanted or endogenous cells to regions of inflammation or neoplasia remain obscure. However, stromal cell-derived factor-1α plays a crucial role in recruitment of bone marrow-derived cells to the heart after myocardial infarction (67). Matrigel invasion assays have implicated such molecules as platelet-derived growth factor-BB, epidermal growth factor, and stromal cell-derived factor-1α as chemokines for MSCs; however, neither basic FGF (bFGF) nor vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) had an affect (68). In any event, the directed trafficking of umbilical and other mesenchymal stem cells to tumors opens the enticing prospect that they may be a platform for targeted delivery of high local levels of protein. Often, such proteins have a short half-life and/or cause major side effects when given systematically.
Access Immediately available once a match is confirmed. Search and match process may take weeks or months; ultimately, a match may not be located. Immediately available upon HLA match May take weeks or months; no match may be found
New Jersey Cord Blood Bank can accept donations without pre-registration at participating hospitals that have on-site staff. Donations are also accepted from certain hospitals via partnerships with local charities.
First, the cells are checked to see if they can be used for a transplant. If there are too few cells, the cord blood unit may be used for research to improve the transplant process for future patients or to investigate new therapies using cord blood, or discarded.
Stem cells have been isolated from virtually all of life’s stages. That is, stem cells have been isolated from the inner cell mass of 5-d-old embryos as well as collected from the olfactory epithelium of senior citizens. Human embryo-derived stem cells and stem cells derived from human fetal tissues have raised moral/ethical concerns that have yet to be adequately discussed and addressed by our society. These society level concerns impact the research effort directly by way of the federally mandated support limitations, blue ribbon panel inquiries, ethical debates, lawsuits, and political posturing. The bottom line is that the United States lacks clear, consistent research goals and unified leadership regarding embryonic stem cell research; this is reflected in the state-to-state differences in legislation and support for embryonic stem cell research. These issues are huge and require serious work. They are beyond the scope of this review.
The Celebration Stem Cell Centre (CSCC), offers both public donation and private “family banking” of umbilical cord blood. All cord blood collections are processed according to the highest standards in the industry in a new, state-of-the art facility located in Gilbert, Arizona. The public cord blood donation program is funded by the private “family banking” program and private philanthropy.
Cost to Donate Client pays a one-time processing fee and annual storage fees. There is no cost for donating, but there is a cost for retreiving from a public bank. One-time processing fee and annual storage fees No cost for donating, but high cost for public bank retrival
Chloe Savannah Metz’ mother donated her baby girl’s cord blood to the NCBP in December 2000. “Many thanks to the New York Blood Center for giving us the opportunity to donate our cord — we hope to give someone a second chance!” – Christine Metz
Marketing materials by Viacord and Cord Blood Registry, the two largest companies, do not mention that cord blood stem cells cannot be used by the child for genetic diseases, although the fine print does state that cord blood may not be effective for all of the listed conditions.
After the birth of a baby, the umbilical cord and placenta are typically discarded as medical waste, but if requested, stem cells from the cord blood inside of them can be collected for storage or donation. Stem cells can be used to treat a variety of diseases. Learn what these diseases are in our comprehensive list of diseases treatable with cord blood stem cells.
iPS cells are artificially-made pluripotent stem cells. This technique allows medical staff to create additional pluripotent cells, which will increase treatment options for patients using stem cell therapy in the near future.
The cord is cut and clamped, just like normal. The mother doesn’t go through anything different during birth, and neither does her child. They will experience no additional pain or procedures before, during, or after birth.
Companies throughout Europe also offer commercial (private) banking of umbilical cord blood. A baby’s cord blood is stored in case they or a family member develop a condition that could be treated by a cord blood transplant. Typically, companies charge an upfront collection fee plus an annual storage fee.
Stem cells are able to transform into other types of cells in the body to create new growth and development. They are also the building blocks of the immune system. The transformation of these cells provides doctors with a way to treat leukemia and some inherited health disorders.
Founded in 1992, CBR has stored more than 600,000 cord blood and cord tissue collections from 3,500 hospitals in over 100 countries and partnered with institutions to establish multiple FDA-regulated clinical trials. CBR has helped more than 400 families use their cord blood stem cells for established and experimental medical treatments, more than any other family cord blood bank. CBR’s goal is to expand the potential scope of newborn stem cell therapies that may be available to patients and their families.
Cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta following birth. This blood is usually discarded. However, cord blood banking utilizes facilities to store and preserve a baby’s cord blood. If you are considering storing your baby’s cord blood, make sure to use a cord blood bank accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), like Viacord.
Florida Hospital for Children is conducting an FDA-regulated phase I clinical trial to investigate the use of a child’s stem cells derived from their own cord blood as a treatment for acquired sensorineural hearing loss.
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.
Make sure you meet a few basic guidelines for public banking. Your doctor will give you an advanced blood test after giving birth, but there are a few basic requirements you have to meet before signing up. The requirements are different for each bank, but you can see our basic list of public banking requirements here.
Some controversial studies suggest that cord blood can help treat diseases other than blood diseases, but often these results cannot be reproduced. Researchers are actively investigating if cord blood might be used to treat various other diseases.
Cord Blood Registry® (CBR®) is the world’s largest newborn stem cell company. Founded in 1992, CBR is entrusted by parents with storing samples from more than 600,000 children. CBR is dedicated to advancing the clinical application of cord blood and cord tissue stem cells by partnering with institutions to establish FDA-regulated clinical trials for conditions that have no cure today.
 Ian Thornley, Mary Eapen, Lillian Sung, Stephanie J. Lee, Stella M. Davies and Steven Joffe, “Private cord blood banking: experiences and views of pediatric hematopoietic cell transplantation physicians,” Pediatrics 123 (2009): 1011-1017.
Stem cells are injected into the veins during a peripheral blood transplant, and naturally work their way to the bone marrow. Once there, the new cells start increasing healthy blood count. Compared to bone marrow transplants, cells from peripheral blood are usually faster, creating new blood cells within two weeks.
Cord blood is also being studied as a substitute for normal blood transfusions in the developing world. More research is necessary prior to the generalized utilization of cord blood transfusion.
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.
At present, the odds of undergoing any stem cell transplant by age 70 stands at one in 217, but with the continued advancement of cord blood and related stem and immune cell research, the likelihood of utilizing the preserved cord blood for disease treatment will continue to grow. Read more about cord blood as a regenerative medicine here.