In a paper published this week in medical journal Stem Cell Research & Therapy, researchers show that umbilical cord tissue can provide large volumes of stem cells over long periods. This evidence could lead to a dramatic increase in the number of stem cells available to patients from each stored umbilical cord, making cord tissue medical gold-dust.
What are Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs)?
Mesenchymal stem cells are multipotent stromal cells (connective cells) that can differentiate into a variety of cell types, including osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells), myocytes (muscle cells) and adipocytes (fat cells which give rise to marrow adipose tissue).
Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are currently being used in over 800 clinical trials mainly due to their immune inhibitory activity. The umbilical cord (UC) is the second leading source of clinically used MSCs.
What’s the difference between these stem cells and the ones in umbilical cord blood?
MSCs are found in the Wharton’s Jelly that surrounds the blood vessels in the umbilical cord. Like the HSCs in cord blood, MSCs are able to renew and differentiate to create new specialist cell types. But, whereas HSCs develop into blood cells which can treat blood cancers and other conditions, MSCs differentiate into tissues, such as bone, nerve, tendon and muscle, opening the possibility for treatment of serious injuries and life-threatening conditions affecting human tissue.
It is hoped that in the future MSCs will play an important part in a variety of medical and clinical procedures to regenerate damaged or diseased tissue.
Biovault Family offer the processing and storage of cord tissue to facilitate the future potential of MSCs and are actively engaged in MSC research and development.
What does this new paper show?
Amongst the many significant findings of this paper, the researchers demonstrated that human umbilical cord maintains a “microenvironment” that can preserve and regenerate active MSCs for months. The team believe this discovery could “drastically increase the number of therapeutically applicable MSCs for a substantial amount of patients.”
The scientists also found that removing blood vessels from umbilical cord increases accessibility to MSC-initiating cells (see illustration above).
Umbilical cord storage and your baby
Due to the protected nature of the stem cells in your baby’s umbilical cord tissue, it is possible to store your child’s cord tissue after any period of delayed cord clamping. The tissue is then preserved, in case your family should ever need those incredible cells.
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.