Doctors in China have confirmed that umbilical cord blood stem cell (USC) transplant is a safe and effective treatment for liver diseases including cirrhosis.
What is liver cirrhosis?
People with cirrhosis have scarred tissue caused by long-term liver damage. The scarring stops the liver working properly which can lead to liver failure and death.
Cirrhosis sufferers may initially experience:
- tiredness and weakness
- loss of appetite and sex drive
As the condition worsens, symptoms include:
- vomiting blood
- bleeding or bruising more easily
- swollen legs or abdomen from fluid build-up
How serious is cirrhosis in the UK?
Liver disease is a huge cause of concern to doctors in the UK. It is the only major cause of death still increasing year-on-year. Twice as many people now die from the disease as in 1991, which equates to more fatalities than from diabetes and road deaths combined.
Liver disease may be caused by hepatitis or cirrhosis. Whereas hepatitis is often curable, cirrhosis refers to permanent scarring. Not only are more and more individuals in the UK being diagnosed with liver disease, doctors are seeing increasing numbers of younger patients with hepatitis and cirrhosis.
The Guardian have reported “an alarming trend of a rising incidence of the conditions among younger people.” In 2002-03 a total of 182 men and 100 women aged 25-29 in England were treated for liver disease, and by 2009-10 those figures had risen by 60% and 88% respectively.
Similarly, the number of 30 to 34-year-old men went up from 558 to 873 (56%), while for women it rose from 310 to 522 (68%). (4)
What does the latest trial show?
Ten trials including 616 patients diagnosed with liver cirrhosis were scrutinised in the study, which assessed treatment effects, quality of life, adverse events and other outcome measures.
Patients were given a USC transplant in addition to routine supportive therapy, with excellent results.
Based on our analysis, the liver function of LC patients was significantly improved after USCs transplantation and RST combined therapy (Huimin Tao, Department of Gastroenterology, Liaocheng People’s Hospital, Liaocheng Clinical School of Taishan Medical University)
Scientists found that patients who received cord blood stem cells had decreased total bilirubin, alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase levels and prothrombin time and increased serum albumin level and prothrombin activity.
This means that compared to patients treated with routine standard treatments alone, patients receiving cord blood had:
- improved appetite
- reduced fatigue
- reduced ascetic fluid
- reduced abdominal distension
- reduced oedema
- an improved quality of life.
There were no serious adverse events resulting from the umbilical cord blood stem cell therapy.
Umbilical cord stem cells don’t just treat liver disease. They are now a frontline treatment for leaukaemia and other cancers of the blood and many other conditions ranging from cerebral palsy to diabetes to neuroblastoma. Storing your child’s cord blood is easy. Find out more here.
- NHS Choices: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cirrhosis/
- British Liver Trust: https://www.britishlivertrust.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/facts-about-liver-disease/
- Dovepress, access to Scientific and Medical Research: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cirrhosis/
- Alcohol-induced liver problems soar amongst young adults: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2011/dec/01/liver-problems-alcohol-young-adults
- (Photo by Asdrubal luna)
BSc (Hons) Microbiology
Biovault Family CEO, Kate Sneddon, joined Biovault in July 2009 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2016. As health industry professional her experience includes working as a microbiologist and leader at GSK for over 10 years. Her expertise in cord blood banking has been recognised in her awards, features in Parliamentary Review and Parents Guide to Cord Blood, as well as contributions to research with UCL and others.