Cord Blood: A Viable Alternative Source for Stem Cells
Cord blood research and technology have shown much progress in recent years. Numerous successful treatments that used cells obtained from this source have demonstrated its viability as an alternative to bone marrow, the traditional source of regenerative cells for transplants.
A stem cell transplant involves the infusion of healthy regenerative cells into the body to replace unhealthy ones. Red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets develop from these cells. The transplant is capable of treating a number of life-threatening diseases and conditions, such as myeloma and immune system disorders.
These special cells obtained from the blood in the placenta or umbilical cord after childbirth can potentially provide numerous benefits to the baby. Each year, more than 30,000 people wait for a matching donor for their stem cell transplant, and approximately 70% of them end up unsuccessful. In contrast, babies who have access to their own cord are guaranteed 100 percent matching cells, should the need for transplant arise in the future.
The baby’s own cells can be safely infused back into his body without the risk of being rejected by the immune system. Complications can occur if the body rejects the immune cells of the donor. Called Graft-Versus-Host Disease (GVHD), roughly 40% of these cases are fatal. However, the risk of GVHD occurring can be greatly minimized with the use of stem cells from the umbilical cord, as these are younger than those in the bone marrow and immune cells here are less reactive.
According to some experts, the umbilical cord contains almost 10 times the number of regenerative cells than bone marrow, and the cells derived from this source have greater regenerative properties because they are more primitive. Given all the above-mentioned, stem cell banking proves to be a worthy investment towards families’ potential future health needs.