What is cord blood and stem cells?
Umbilical Cord blood is the blood taken from the umbilical cord and placenta at the time of birth. This blood is rich in a variety of haematopoietic stem cells. Stem cells are non-differentiated, immature cells with a capacity to replicate themselves into cells with similar properties. The most versatile stem cells are pluripotent stem cells. They are present in the first days when an egg is fertilized by the sperm. Stem cells are collected from the umbilical cord after the birth of the newborn and used as a source of stem cells for transplantation. Researchers believe they can make stem cells to become whatever tissues the patients need. Stem cell therapy has been hailed as a promising therapeutic approach in treating a lot of disorders. Stem cells can be used to repair specific tissues and grow new organs. This can change the face of human disease in the years to come.
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What is stem cell preservation?
Cord blood is the richest source of the life-giving stem cells. Preservation of stem cells can be considered as getting ‘biological insurance’ done. It is possible to preserve the baby’s cord blood with an umbilical cord blood banking service. The doctors may be able to use these stem cells to fight diseases in the donor, the siblings or parents. Moreover, cord blood collection does not cause any harm to the baby or the mother.
After the birth of the child, the doctor clamps and cuts the umbilical cord. The blood remaining in the umbilical cord is harvested into the collection bags. An effective collection method is bag/drip or gravity method. They are user-friendlier, provide more volume of blood and are less prone to contamination. A closed-system bag provides the least likelihood of contamination. The procedure lasts for five minutes and is irrespective of whether the delivery was normal or by caesarean section. The transportation of the cord blood to the processing and storage facility is a critical step. It is also advised to have the cord cells tested for infections, stem cell count and viability.
Stem cell therapy can be used to treat a host of diseases such as Leukemia, Lymphoma, Thalassemia, Osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Severe Combined Immune deficiency Syndrome, aplastic Anemia and Sickle cell anemia.