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Sunday 24th of June 2018 - 11:53:57 AM
Cord Blood - Stem Cells

What Are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are one of the most fascinating and revolutionary areas of biology today. Scientists are rapidly discovering the many uses of these "mother cells" capable of creating the major components of human blood, bone marrow, and the immune system. Stem cells or "hematopoetic stem cells" are primitive cells with the ability to both multiply and separate into specific types of cells. The body's white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets are just a few examples of derivatives from these stem cells. Other lines of stem cells include neuro stem cells and blood vessel stem cells, which develop into more complex neuro cells and blood vessels.

Through the research and study of stem cells, extensive knowledge is increasing about how an organism develops from a single cell, and how healthy cells can replace damaged cells; which is frequently referred to as regenerative or reparative medicine. These stem cells hold the promise of allowing researchers to grow and rejuvenate specific cells or tissues which could ultimately be used to treat diseases.

Click here for a complete list of diseases treatable by hematopoetic stem cells collected from the umbilical cord blood.

When Are Stem Cells Used?

Patients suffering from a malignant disease such as leukemia may undergo treatment with radiation or chemotherapy to destroy the cancer cells alive in their body. Radiation and chemotherapy treatments are often successful in destroying the cancer cells, however, in the process; they may also destroy the patient's healthy cells and bone marrow.

Bone marrow is essential for the production of blood cells. If the bone marrow is destroyed, either from a malignant, non-malignant or genetic disorder, a stem cell transplant becomes necessary. Transplanted stem cells re-populate the bone marrow thereby replenishing the body's supply of cells.

Additional Benefits

Every year, approximately 9,000 patients are diagnosed with diseases that can be treated by transplantation of bone marrow, where stem cells exist. The problem with this option is the lack of availability for an exact match. Almost 70% of these patients are unable to find a donor using donor registries. It is even more difficult for African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and other ethnic minorities or mixed ethnicities to locate donors.

Using a family member's stored stem cells gives the patient a higher probability of finding an exact or acceptable match for their transplantation options. The probability that the stem cells will be an exact HLA type blood match is as follows: 1/1 for the child the stem cells were collected from, 1/2 for mother and father of this child, and 1/4 for a sibling of the child whose stem cells are saved from. Stems cells are also a probable match for other relatives in the child's blood line. The use of stem cells also alleviates certain diseases that incur from a marrow transplant, such as Graft vs. Host Disease, and other complications relating to the body rejecting the donor's marrow. Stem cells are more compliant with the body and its ability to accept foreign material in the process of increasing and sustaining healthy cells.

Where do I store Cord Blood?

The best place to store Cord Blood is in a cord blood bank.  There are a few facilities around the US that specialize in storing and freezing cord blood.

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