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The range of diseases that doctors can treat with cord blood is vast. More than 80 diseases are currently known to respond to cord blood stem cells transplants and, as more are studied and tested, that number is sure to grow.
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.
Cord blood contains mesenchymal stem cells but is much more abundant in hematopoietic stem cells. Cord tissue, on the other hand, contains some hematopoietic stem cells but is much richer in mesenchymal stem cells. Cord tissue, or Wharton’s jelly, is the protective layer that covers the umbilical cord’s vein and other vessels. Its MSCs can become a host of cells including those found in the nervous system, sensory organs, circulatory tissues, skin, bone, cartilage, and more. MSCs are currently undergoing clinical trials for sports injuries, heart and kidney disease, ALS, wound healing and autoimmune disease. As with cord blood, cord tissue is easily collected at the type of birth and holds great potential in regenerative medicine. Learn more about cord tissue banking here.
The blood that remains in the umbilical cord and the placenta after birth is called “cord blood”. Umbilical cord blood, umbilical cord tissue, and the placenta are all very rich sources of newborn stem cells. The stem cells in the after birth are not embryonic. Most of the stem cells in cord blood are blood-forming or hematopoietic stem cells. Most of the stem cells in cord tissue and the placenta are mesenchymal stem cells.
LifebankUSA seeks mothers in NEW YORK & NEW JERSEY ONLY who will donate both their cord blood and their placenta. The donations support an international registry, clinical trials and research. Donations can be taken from any hospital, but mothers must register at least 8 weeks prior to delivery and pass a health screening.
Cord blood is used to treat children with cancerous blood disorders such as leukaemia, or genetic blood diseases like Fanconi anaemia. The cord blood is transplanted into the patient, where the HSCs can make new, healthy blood cells to replace those damaged by the patient’s disease or by a medical treatment such as chemotherapy for cancer.
Donating cord blood to a public cord blood bank involves talking with your doctor or midwife about your decision to donate and then calling a cord blood bank (if donation can be done at your hospital). Upon arriving at the hospital, tell the labor and delivery nurse that you are donating umbilical cord blood.
Cancellations prior to CBR’s storage of the samples(s) are subject to an administrative fee of $150. If you terminate your agreement with CBR after storage of the sample(s), you will not receive a refund.
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.
FAQ172: Designed as an aid to patients, this document sets forth current information and opinions related to women’s health. The information does not dictate an exclusive course of treatment or procedure to be followed and should not be construed as excluding other acceptable methods of practice. Variations, taking into account the needs of the individual patient, resources, and limitations unique to the institution or type of practice, may be appropriate.
Then, the cord blood is listed on a national registry. Be The Match is the name of the U.S. registry. This organization also partners with international programs, which means your child’s stem cells could be used to treat a patient on the other side of the world.
Donating cord blood to a public bank adds to the supply and can potentially help others. Donating to a public bank is especially important for ethnic minorities, who are not well represented in cord blood banks. Public cord blood donation increases the chance of all groups finding a match.
A cord blood industry report by Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation found that, among developed nations, cord blood banking cost is only 2% of the annual income of those households likely to bank.
Use for Donor Clients can rest assured knowing their cord blood is available if needed. Always available if needed. Donors may never find the stem cells donated if ever needed because of the following:
Cord Blood Registry is headquartered in South San Francisco, California. CBR owns their 80,000 square foot laboratory located in Tucson, Arizona. CBR’s laboratory processes cord blood collections seven days a week, 365 days a year. The state-of-the-art facility has the capacity to store the stem cell samples of five million newborns.
There are around 20 companies in the United States offering public cord blood banking and 34 companies offering private (or family) cord blood banking. Public cord blood banking is completely free (collecting, testing, processing, and storing), but private cord blood banking costs between $1,400 and $2,300 for collecting, testing, and registering, plus between $95 and $125 per year for storing. Both public and private cord blood banks require moms to be tested for various infections (like hepatitis and HIV).
The Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act was passed in 2005, which supports building a public reserve of 150,000 cord blood units from ethnically diverse donors in order to treat more than 90% of patients in need of HSC transplants. Donors from ethnic minority patients are particularly in need due to the greater variation of HLA-types in non-Caucasian ethnicities. Thirty-five percent of cord blood units go to patients of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds.
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.
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.
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).
Finally, the healthy stem cells are placed into long-term cryogenic storage. Compared to other stem cell sources, cord blood units are available very quickly since a doctor can remove them from storage and send them to the transplant hospital within a few days.
Next to hematopoeitic stem cells, the most widely studied stem cells in bone marrow are marrow-derived MSCs, also known as marrow stromal cells. In the adult, MSCs are found in highest concentration in the marrow cavity. MSCs are found at lower density in blood and in peripheral, adipose, and other tissues. MSC-like cells can be isolated from umbilical cord blood, placenta, perivascular areas, amniotic fluid, and from the tissue surrounding the umbilical cord vessels, i.e., Wharton’s jelly. The collection of MSC-like cells from tissues that are discarded at birth is easier and less expensive than collecting MSCs from a bone marrow aspirate. During the collection of these tissues, there is no health impact on either the mother or the newborn. At least in theory, these cells may be stored frozen and then thawed to provide stem cells for therapeutic use decades after cryogenic storage.
When a patient needs bone marrow for a transplant, stem cells are thawed and injected into the bloodstream. The cells then make their way to the bone marrow, and start producing new blood cells – this process usually takes a few weeks.
Dr. C. L. Cetrulo is thanked for critically reviewing the manuscript. Thanks to Dr. M. S. Rao and the members of the stem cell laboratory at NIA for their hospitality during my sabbatical leave and their continued assistance with this work. Thanks to my wife, Betti, and my children, Rita, Jonathan, Ellen, and James, for their patience and understanding. Dr. S. Bennet is thanked for assisting with umbilical cord collection. The anonymous donors are thanked for donating their umbilical cords. The Midwest Institute for Comparative Stem Cell Biology members who contributed to this work: M. Pyle, J. Hix, R. Rakasheklar, D. Davis, R. Carlin, D. Davis, S. Medicety, K. Seshareddy, C. Anderson, and M. Burton are thanked for their assistance. Thanks to our collaborators at ViaCell, Inc. (E. Abraham and A. Krivtsov, M. Kraus, S. Wnendt, and J. Visser) and at Athersys, Inc. (R. Deans and A. Ting) for their assistance and support. Drs. H. Klingemann (Tufts) and F. Marini (MD Anderson) are thanked for sharing the results of their ongoing work. This work was supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) (salary support during sabbatical leave), Department of Anatomy and Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine Dean’s office, Terry C. Johnson center for Basic Cancer Research and NIH NS034160. MLW is a paid consultant for RMI (Las Vegas, NV).
Cord Blood Registry’s Newborn Possibilities Program® serves as a catalyst to advance newborn stem cell medicine and science for families that have been identified with a medical need to potentially use newborn stem cells now or in the near future. NPP offers free cord blood and cord tissue processing and five years of storage to qualifying families. To date, the Newborn Possibilities Program has processed and saved stem cells for nearly 6,000 families.