Why Are Cord Blood Stem Cells Stored?

Harvesting and storing cord blood stem cells after birth is not a difficult procedure, but it is very expensive. Why is it done?

Dr. Lana


What can be cured by stem cells?

Cord blood stem cells are hematopoietic cells used primarily to treat diseases of the circulatory system, all types of leukemia, lymphoma, neuroblastoma, medulloblastoma, retinoblastoma β€” and, if necessary, bone marrow transplants. However, in recent years there have been active experiments regarding their usage for the treatment of neurological problems, liver cirrhosis, diabetes, heart failure, and some other diseases.

The cells are not necessarily applied to the "host," as the material is often used to treat immediate family members β€” typically brothers and sisters. This surgery is less dangerous than transplantation from a donor, as graft-versus-host reaction (a common complication of transplantation) occurs several times less frequently. It is in bone marrow transplantation that the use of stem cells is considered most effective.

How are the stem cells taken?

The parents-to-be must decide in advance to order a cell collection kit and inform the doctors of their intention to do so. After cutting the umbilical cord, the obstetrician takes all the blood contained in the umbilical cord from its maternal end, pre-sterilized. Blood is often taken from the placenta after birth. After the collection, the material is placed in a special container with an anticoagulant and transported to a cryobank, where stem cells used for transplantation are isolated from the blood. Storage of the biomaterial is paid monthly, with no time limit.

In Europe, one out of every five transplants to patients under the age of 20 is performed with cord blood cells.

Isn't it harmful to the baby?

The baby will not feel anything during the procedure and its health will not be affected. Previously, there was a theory that all the umbilical cord blood should pass into the baby's body to create a strong immune system, but this is not based on scientific evidence.

Who should think about the procedure?

It is difficult to answer this question because most cord blood will not be useful, but some will save lives. The easiest way to think about this process is to compare it to car insurance: you may never get into an accident, but if you do, you'll be glad you have insurance. Those who have a family history of stem cell treatable cancers should think most seriously about stem cell storage.

23 February 2022

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