A new paper published in Stem Cell Research & Therapy reveals that stem cells from the umbilical cord can protect neurons in the human brain. This adds to a growing body of evidence showing that umbilical stem cells have the potential to treating and preventing neurological injury and diseases such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Umbilical cord stem cells for neurological problems
Many studies have now shown that Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) have the potential to treat injuries and diseases that affect the central nervous system. These include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- corneal injuries
- optic nerve injuries
- neurodegenerative diseases such as, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s diseases.
How are umbilical stem cells collected?
The MSCs used in this study were extracted from Wharton’s Jelly, a cushioning substance found in the umbilical cord. Both cord blood and cord tissue can be collected after birth without disruption to the birthing process or post-natal care.
Cord tissue can be frozen and cryogenically stored until the stem cells it contains are needed. The cord is collected post-partum, allowing the mother to have a natural third stage. The process of cord tissue collection does not require early clamping, so parents can optimise the health of their child by practising delayed cord clamping as advised by NICE and WHO and store their child’s stem cells, potentially protecting them from future illness or injury.
Umbilical cord stem cells for Alzheimer’s Disease
This latest study tested the scientists’ hypothesis that MSCs could protect neurons from damage sustained in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is responsible for 50–70% of dementia cases in the elderly, and effective treatments are still not available (Stem Cell Research & Therapy).
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are potential therapies for a number of neurological disorders, including AD. MSCs from the placenta have been shown to reduce memory impairment and stem cells from cord blood have also been shown to promote neuronal differentiation, prevent cell death and improve memory.
Neuroprotection by MSCs appears to stimulate neurogenesis and/or combat inflammation, a concept known as secretome. In this study, scientists investigated the neuroprotective potential in an in vitro model of Alzheimer’s.
The team’s findings suggest that stem cells from the umbilical cord are able to protect neurons from oxidative stress and synapse damage. The writers predict that these MSCs may “contribute to the treatment of AD and other neurodegenerative disorders.”