cord blood awareness month | why is cord blood banked

^ Roura S, Pujal JM, Gálvez-Montón C, Bayes-Genis A (2015). “Impact of umbilical cord blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells on cardiovascular research”. BioMed Research International. 2015: 975302. doi:10.1155/2015/975302. PMC 4377460 . PMID 25861654.
Umbilical cord blood is being studied for potential use in a wide variety of life-threatening diseases because it is a rich source of blood stem cells. Transplantation of blood stem cells from umbilical cords has been used successfully to treat several pediatric blood diseases, including sickle cell anemia and cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma. This procedure is still considered investigational. There is currently no solid evidence that umbilical cord blood stem cells have the ability to be transformed into other types of cells, such as replacement nerve tissue or myelin-making cells.
When the medical courier delivers the cord blood collection kit to the cord blood bank, it is quickly processed to ensure the continued viability of the stem cells and immune system cells found in the cord blood. Firstly, a sample of the cord blood is tested for microbiological contamination, and the mother’s blood is tested for infectious diseases. As these tests are being conducted, the cord blood is processed to reduce the number of red blood cells and its total volume and isolate the stem cells and immune cells.
Most of the diseases on the proven treatment list are inherited genetic diseases. Typically, these treatments require a donor transplant, as from a sibling. In fact, research shows that treatments using cord blood from a family member are about twice as successful as treatments using cord blood from a non-relative.9a, 17 To date, over 400 ViaCord families have used their cord blood 56% were for transplant.1
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.
There are a number of different processing methods out there for a cord blood bank to use, and the processing method can ultimately affect the purity of the final product, which we’ll explain in a minute. Once the stem and immune system cells have been isolated and extracted from the plasma and red blood cell, they are mixed with a cryo-protectant and stored in a cryo-bag. We overwrap our bags for added protection and use a technique called “controlled-rate freezing” to prepare the cells for long-term storage. The overwrapped cryo-bag is housed in a protective metal cassette and placed in vapor-phase liquid nitrogen freezer for long-term preservation.
The work from Dr. Verfaillie’s lab on the multipotent adult progenitor cell (MAPC) has received much attention (15,16,18–22). Their findings indicate that the MAPC is pluripotential and slightly enigmatic, as it appears after extensive passage in cell culture. Similarly, in umbilical cord blood, Kogler et al. (17,23) identified a cell that they call the universal somatic stem cell (USSC). The USSC is another rare cell (average of 16 cells in initial isolate; able to isolate USSC in 50% of the cords attempted). The USSC, like the MAPC, offers much promise as an embryo-safe pluripotent cell. Widespread acceptance of these two cells will come when the methods for their isolation become robust such that any laboratory can isolate them and contribute to the field.
When a donor signs up with a public bank, the mother must pass a health screening and sign a consent form. After that, the bank processes the application, which makes last-minute donations impossible. However, there are a small number of banks that accept late donor requests.
While the transplantation of cord blood has its advantages, its main disadvantage is the limited amount of blood contained within a single umbilical cord.  Because of this, cord blood is most often transplanted in children.  Physicians are currently trying to determine ways that cord blood can be used in larger patients, such as transferring two cord blood units or increasing the number of cells in vitro before transplanting to the patient.  It also takes longer for cord blood cells to engraft. This lengthier period means that the patient is at a higher risk for infection until the transplanted cells engraft.  Patients also cannot get additional donations from the same donor if the cells do not engraft or if the patient relapses.  If this is the case, an additional cord blood unit or an adult donor may be used.  While cord blood is screened for a variety of common genetic diseases, rare genetic diseases that manifest after birth may be passed on.  The National Cord Blood Program estimates that the risk of transmitting a rare genetic disorder is approximately 1 in 10,000.
However, cord blood transplants also have limitations. Treatment of adults with cord blood typically requires two units of cord blood to treat one adult. Clinical trials using “double cord blood transplantation” for adults have demonstrated outcomes similar to use of other sources of HSCs, such as bone marrow or mobilized peripheral blood. Current studies are being done to expand a single cord blood unit for use in adults. Cord blood can also only be used to treat blood diseases. No therapies for non-blood-related diseases have yet been developed using HSCs from either cord blood or adult bone marrow.
In addition to the benefits related to transplanting HSCs derived from cord blood, HSCs are relatively easy to isolate, giving them an advantage over other adult stem cell types.  Cord blood HSCs are also believed to have greater plasticity than HSCs found in bone marrow or the blood stream.  The limits and possibilities of using HSCs to repair tissues and treat non-blood related disorders are currently being studied.
Cord blood banking means preserving the newborn stem cells found in the blood of the umbilical cord and the placenta. After a baby is born, and even after delayed cord clamping, there is blood remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta that holds valuable newborn stem cells. Parents have a choice between donating cord blood to a public bank for free, or paying to store it for their family in a private bank. Cord blood banking includes the whole process from collection through storage of newborn stem cells for future medical purposes.
Find a public bank that participates with your hospital. Public banks usually partner with specific hospitals, so you will usually only have one choice. If your hospital doesn’t partner with a public bank, or if you don’t like the facility they work with, several private banks offer a donation option, which means public banking may still be possible.
Because the team at CORD:USE is made up of many of the world’s leaders in cord blood banking, science and transplantation and because it leads the industry in cord blood protection, CORD:USE is truly unlike any other cord blood bank.
Cord blood is used the same way that hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is used to reconstitute bone marrow following radiation treatment for various blood cancers, and for various forms of anemia.[1][2] Its efficacy is similar as well.[1]
Ironically, some private banks also hope to benefit from this new legislation. “We have the capabilities and capacity to collect and store donated as well as private units,” says Cryo-Cell’s Maass. In fact, because the bill recommends that pregnant women be informed of all of their cord-blood options, it’s likely that donations to both public and private banks will increase.
Yes, if you have any sick children who could benefit from umbilical cord blood. Public banks such as Carolinas Cord Bank at Duke University and private banks such as FamilyCord in Los Angeles offer programs in which the bank will assist with cord blood processing and storage if your baby has a biological sibling with certain diseases. FamilyCord will provide free cord blood storage for one year. See a list of banks with these programs at parentsguidecordblood.org/help.php.
Recently the minimal defining characteristics of MSCs was the subject of a blue ribbon panel of scientists (24). This panel ascribed three defining characteristics to MSCs. First, MSCs are plastic-adherent when maintained in standard culture conditions. Second, MSCs express the cell surface markers CD105, CD73, and CD90 and lack expression of CD45, CD34, CD14 or CD11b, CD79 or CD19, and HLA-DR. Third, MSCs differentiate to osteoblasts, adipocytes, and chondroblasts in vitro. As shown in Table 1, mesenchymal-like cells collected from the umbilical cord, placenta, and from umbilical cord blood, perivascular space, and placenta all share a relatively consistent set of surface markers, which is apparently consistent with the hypothesis that they are MSC-like.
In the public arena there has been much discussion on the benefits of for-profit private cord blood banking over public banking.  Numerous for-profit companies offer new parents the option of collecting and storing cord blood for future use by the donor infant, siblings, or other family members.  Parents may choose to bank cord blood if they have a family history of a particular disease or disorder, or as a means of “biological insurance” in case their child or family member develops a medical condition or becomes injured requiring a transplant.
Meet Dylan. Diagnosed with leukemia at just 8 weeks old, he received a life-saving cord blood transplant at 6 months old. Today, Dylan is growing up strong, going to school, travelling with his family and just having fun being a kid!
The process used to collect cord blood is simple and painless. After the baby is born, the umbilical cord is cut and clamped. Blood is drawn from the cord with a needle that has a bag attached. The process takes about 10 minutes.
Checked to make sure it has enough blood-forming cells 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.)
Public cord blood banking supports the health of the community. Public banks collect qualifying cord blood donations from healthy pregnancies and save them in case one of them will be the match to save the life of a patient who needs a stem cell transplant. In the United States our registry of donors is called Be The Match. Patients who have a rare genetic type are more likely to receive cord blood transplants. In order for parents to donate cord blood to a public bank, their baby must be born at a hospital that accepts donations. Public cord blood banking is highly recommended by both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American Medical Association (AMA).
Cord blood (short for umbilical cord blood) is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta post-delivery. At or near term, there is a maternal–fetal transfer of cells to boost the immune systems of both the mother and baby in preparation for labor. This makes cord blood at the time of delivery a rich source of stem cells and other cells of the immune system. Cord blood banking is the process of collecting the cord blood and extracting and cryogenically freezing its stem cells and other cells of the immune system for potential future medical use.
Private cord blood banking can benefit those with a strong family history of certain diseases that harm the blood and immune system, such as leukemia and some cancers, sickle-cell anemia, and some metabolic disorders. Parents who already have a child (in a household with biological siblings) who is sick with one of these diseases have the greatest chance of finding a match with their baby’s cord blood. Parents who have a family history of autism, Alzheimer’s, and type 1 diabetes can benefit from cord blood. Although these diseases aren’t currently treated with umbilical cord steam cells, researchers are exploring ways to treat them (and many more) with cord blood.
Your adult cells have one disadvantage to cord blood cells – they cannot change their cell type. When stem cells from cord blood and tissue are transplanted, they adjust to fit the individual patient and replace damaged cells. Adult stem cells are also older, which means they have been exposed to disease, and may damage patients after the transplant. Compared to cord blood cells, adult cells have a higher chance for graft-versus-host disease.
People who are in need of a transplant are more likely to find a match from a donor of the same ethnic descent. There are fewer racial minorities in the national registries, so finding a match can be more difficult.5
A nurse from the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank may contact you several weeks after your delivery to check on the health of you and your baby. If your child’s cord blood is identified as a potential match for a patient anytime in the future, an additional phone call will be made to check on the health of your child and family. This call is to obtain and update medical information only. At no time will you or your child be asked for additional blood samples.
Research is being conducted using cord blood cells to analyze immune response and other factors that may eventually shed light on causes and treatment of MS. However, at present there is no treatment available involving cord blood cells. Nor do we know of any sites that are looking for cord blood specifically for MS research.
Current applications for newborn stem cells include treatments for certain cancers and blood, metabolic and immune disorders. Additionally, newborn stem cell preservation has a great potential to benefit the newborn’s immediate family members with stem cell samples preserved in their most pristine state.
Remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta is approx. 40–120 milliliters of cord blood. The healthcare provider will extract the cord blood from the umbilical cord at no risk or harm to the baby or mother.
Umbilical cord blood contains haematopoietic (blood) stem cells. These cells are able to make the different types of cell in the blood – red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Haematopoietic stem cells, purified from bone marrow or blood, have long been used in stem cell treatments for leukaemia, blood and bone marrow disorders, cancer (when chemotherapy is used) and immune deficiencies.
In Europe, Canada, and Australia use of cord blood is regulated as well.[5] In the United Kingdom the NHS Cord Blood Bank was set up in 1996 to collect, process, store and supply cord blood; it is a public cord blood bank and part of the NHS.[7]
Is the blood stored as a single unit or in several samples? Freezing in portions is preferred so the blood can be tested for potential transplant use without thawing — and wasting — the entire sample.
Cord blood is collected by your obstetrician or the staff at the hospital where you give birth. Not all hospitals offer this service. Some charge a separate fee that may or may not be covered by insurance.
It’s now possible to preserve up to twice the number of stem cells – exclusively available through cord blood banking with Americord®. With Cord Blood 2.0™, you now have the opportunity to treat your child into adolescence and even adulthood. Learn more >

Preserving stem cells does not guarantee that the saved stem cells will be applicable for every situation. Ultimate use will be determined by a physician. Please note: Americord Registry’s activities are limited to collection of umbilical cord tissue from autologous donors. Americord Registry’s possession of a New York State license for such collection does not indicate approval or endorsement of possible future uses or future suitability of cells derived from umbilical cord tissue.
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“Raising a family is expensive enough,” says Jeffrey Ecker, MD, director of obstetrical clinical research at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, and a member of ACOG’s ethics committee. “There’s no reason for parents to take on this additional financial burden when there’s little chance of a child ever using his own cord blood.”
Participating mothers will give a sample of blood (about four teaspoons), which will be tested for certain infections, including hepatitis and HIV. This is done to reduce the chances of passing on an infectious disease through the transplantation of the cord blood unit. This blood sample can be obtained at the hospital when the nurse is starting your IV or collecting routine blood samples for your physician.
There is little doubt that scientists believe umbilical cord blood stem cells hold promise for the future. Cord blood stem cells are already used to treat blood disorders such as aplastic anemia, and research is underway to determine if they can treat other more common conditions like type 1 diabetes. But many experts question whether many companies’s marketing materials confuse or even mislead parents about the usefulness of private banking.
In an allogenic transplant, another person’s stem cells are used to treat a child’s disease. This kind of transplant is more likely to be done than an autologous transplant. In an allogenic transplant, the donor can be a relative or be unrelated to the child. For an allogenic transplant to work, there has to be a good match between donor and recipient. A donor is a good match when certain things about his or her cells and the recipient’s cells are alike. If the match is not good, the recipient’s immune system may reject the donated cells. If the cells are rejected, the transplant does not work.
^ a b Walther, Mary Margaret (2009). “Chapter 39. Cord Blood Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation”. In Appelbaum, Frederick R.; Forman, Stephen J.; Negrin, Robert S.; Blume, Karl G. Thomas’ hematopoietic cell transplantation stem cell transplantation (4th ed.). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 9781444303537.