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Cord Blood
Cord Blood

Benefits of Saving Cord Blood

Since 1988, umbilical cord blood stem cells have been used to treat an increasing number of diseases, including blood and metabolic disorders, immunodeficiency ailments and autoimmune diseases. These cells have been proven useful in the treatment of cancers and blood disorders such as neuroblastoma, luekaemia, lymphoma and thalassemia. Continuing breakthroughs promise to revolutionise cellular therapy and regenerative medicine in the near future.

When transplanted into a patient, the haematopoietic stem cells migrate to the bone marrow and produce new blood cells, boosting the immune system. With the rapid advances in technology, the number of diseases treated by stem cell therapies is expected to increase.

Top 5 compelling reasons for banking cord blood:

  1. Approximately 3,000 Indonesian children younger than 15 years are diagnosed with leukaemia every year1.
  2. Thalassemia major and leukaemia, 2 of the most common diseases in Indonesia, are treatable with stem cells. Once missed, stem cells can only be extracted from sources including bone marrow, which is a painful process.
  3. You only have one chance to collect your baby's cord blood; at birth.
  4. 1 in 500 babies in the world have cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder2. Recent developments in cellular therapy have shown potential for treatment.
  5. Stem cells from our baby can also be used for his or her siblings. Research showed that patients recover better and survival rates are doubled when they receive stem cells from a relative3.

How Are Stem Cells Used

Stem Cell Transplantation

This is done to reconstitute a patient's blood and immune system, following treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which destroys blood cells.

The stem cells are infused directly into the patient's bloodstream, which migrate to the bone marrow. Inside the bone marrow environment, the stem cells begin differentiating into the three blood cell types - red blood, white blood and platelets. This initiates the regeneration of the patient's blood and immune system.

The first cord blood transplant was performed in 1988 in France, which successfully treated a 5-year old boy with Fanconi's Anaemia. To date there have been more than 30,000 cord blood stem cell transplants reported worldwide.4

Cellular Therapies

Many newer applications are still undergoing development. In some cases, like spinal cord injury and heart attacks, the cells are directly injected into the damaged tissues. Some of the benefits experienced appear to be due to new blood vessel formation, which restores blood flow to damaged tissue.

As these treatments develop, we expect to see cord blood stem cells used in different ways. In some cases, the stem cells will be treated in the laboratory to make new cell types before use. In other cases, they will be delivered directly into the damaged tissue.

References:
1. Mostert S, Sitaresmi MN, Gundy CM, Veerman S and AJP. Influence of socioeconomic status on childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia treatment in Indonesia. Pediatrics 2006;118;e1600-1606.
2. Hirtz D, Thurman DJ, Gwinn-Hardy K, Mohamed M, Chaudhuri AR, Zalutsky R. How common are the "common" neurologic disorders?[abstract]. Neurology 2007;68(5):326-327. Accessed Dec 29, 2011, PMID:17261678
3. Bizzetto R, Bonfim C, Rocha V, et al. Outcomes after related and unrelated umbilical cord blood transplantation for hereditary bone marrow failure syndromes other than Fanconi anemia. Haematologica 2011;96(1):134-41
4. Ballen K., Gluckman E., Broxmeyer H. Umbilical cord blood transplantation: the first 25 years and beyond. Blood. 2013;122(4):491-498.