Many of you may have already heard that the stem cells present in the umbilical-cord blood of a baby can be a lifesaver. However, I am sure of the fact that most of you only have a vague idea about how it works or which diseases can be treated by them. At present, cord blood stem cells are used for the treatment of certain types of blood disorders, cancers, and immune disorders. However, with extensive ongoing cord-blood research around the world, this list has been growing continuously.
It is extremely useful for all young couples to stay updated about the latest cord blood research and the types of conditions it can treat. This knowledge can help them make an informed decision while taking a call about cord blood banking for their baby.
A Basic Idea about Cord Blood:
In the language of a layman, cord blood can be referred to as the blood left over in the umbilical cord of a baby immediately after his or her birth. The blood is harvested by the practitioners in a method that is easy, safe, and painless. This blood is considered to be extremely valuable because it is a rich source of hematopoietic stem cells. Clinical studies have established that these cells are capable of developing into any specialized cell type in the immune system and blood. They can also repair and replace damaged cells all over the human body. Cord blood is considered to be ideal for transplants because they can mutate and regenerate to create healthy immune and blood cells. This has made cord blood a reliable treatment alternative for certain diseases such as metabolic disorders, bone-marrow-failure syndromes, immune-system deficiencies, blood disorders, cancers, and several other inherited disorders. Cord blood is considered to be better for these treatments compared to bone marrow and circulating blood because the need to match the tissue type of the patients is not as close.
When the cord blood of your baby is used for him or her in the future, it is known as autologous use. Allogeneic use, on the other hand, refers to its use by a close family member. Cord blood of your baby may also be donated to a public bank, to be used by unrelated persons with similar tissue types in need of a transplant.
Current Treatments using Cord Blood:
At present, cord-blood transplant is applied as a potential cure for over 80 diseases. Some of these include
- Different types of cancer such as leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, retinoblastoma, neuroblastoma, etc.
- Deficiencies in the bone marrow or bone-marrow-failure syndromes including pure red-blood-cell aplasia and severe aplastic anemia.
- Metabolic disorders resulting from abnormal chemical reactions in the body including Hunter syndrome, Gaucher’s disease, and Hurler syndrome.
- Immune-system disorders such as severe combined immunodeficiency and X-linked immunodeficiency.
- Different types of anemia
- Inherited disorders like osteoporosis.
Latest cord blood research indicates that compared to nonrelated donors, transplants from related donors are more successful. However, experts have divided opinion with regards to the idea that a baby requires only his or her own cord blood for the treatment of a disease in the future. This is primarily due to the fact that certain diseases affecting the immune systems and blood may already be present in the cord blood of the baby.
Recently conducted experimental and clinical trials indicate a promising future for cord blood aided treatment. In the near future, cord blood may open up new avenues in the treatment of neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and cerebral palsy, autoimmune diseases such as lupus and type 1 diabetes, and other conditions such as kidney disease, liver disease, cardiovascular problems, stroke, brain, and spinal-cord injuries, etc. Therefore, regardless of how you choose to store your baby’s cord blood, it would definitely prove to be an excellent source of life-saving treatments for a lifetime.