Tag Archive: Cord Blood Banking

  1. 28th May is World Blood Cancer Day – cord blood can provide a cure

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    We look at how umbilical cord blood can help treat people with certain life-threatening diseases, including some types of cancers.

    Why do we have a World Blood Cancer day?

    Every 27 seconds, someone somewhere in the world is diagnosed with blood cancer. Blood
    cancer refers to defects in the blood-forming system, which cause cancer cells to enter the
    bloodstream and multiply uncontrollably, crowding out the healthy cells. This means the blood
    can no longer perform its tasks, such as oxygen transportation and defence against germs.

    Depending on the level of maturity of the blood cells in which these changes take place, doctors
    distinguish between three main groups of blood cancer, each of which has many sub-types:
    leukemia, multiple myeloma and malignant lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes). Blood
    cancer therefore refers to various diseases of the blood-forming system.

    Did you know that umbilical cord blood can be used to treat more than 80 diseases, including blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma?

    Stem cell transplants with cord blood have been used to cure both children and adults with leukemia for longer than people think.

    The first cord blood stem cell transplant, an international effort between physicians in the U.S. and Europe, was performed in France in 1988. Stem cells collected from a newborn’s umbilical cord blood were used to save the life of her brother, a 5-year-old with Fanconi Anemia. 

    Since then, there have been more than 40,000 cord blood transplants performed worldwide. 

    What makes cord blood so special?

    The umbilical cord contains something very precious: hematopoietic stem cells.

    Hematopoietic stem cells have the ability of forming into mature blood cells – red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, providing what your body needs to stay healthy. 

    Cord blood stem cells are amazing.

    They have a natural ability to:

    Differentiate
    Turn into different types of cells such as blood, tissue, nerve, and bone cells

    Self-Renew
    Make copies of themselves

    Repair
    Replace damaged cells with healthy ones.

    What Is Cord Blood Used For Today?

    Cord blood has been used in transplant medicine for thirty years and can be used in the treatment of over 80 diseases including:

    Cancers 

    Acute lymphoblastic leukemia | Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma | Neuroblastoma 

    Blood Disorders

    Sickle-cell anemia | Cooley’s anemia | β-thalassemia intermedia 

    Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes

    Fanconi anemia | Diamond-Blackfan anemia | Juvenile dermatomyositis  

    Metabolic Disorders

    Hurler syndrome | Tay-Sachs Disease | Krabbe disease 

    Immune Disorders

    Severe combined immunodeficiency | DiGeorge syndrome | Reticular dysplasia

    What is a cord blood transplant?

    You need healthy bone marrow and blood cells to live. If you have a condition that affects your bone marrow or blood, then a stem cell transplant could be the best treatment option. For some people, a transplant offers hope of a potential cure.

    A bone marrow or stem cell transplant means that doctors or nurses will put new, healthy stem cells into your bloodstream. These cells make their way to your bone marrow where they begin to grow and make healthy new blood cells.

    Who can potentially use my newborn’s cord blood?

    A cord blood transplant could be a suitable treatment option for:

    • a condition that means that you’re not able to make your own healthy blood cells, for example aplastic anaemia or a genetic condition affecting your blood, bone marrow or immune system
    • a condition that means that you’re not able to make your own healthy blood cells, for example aplastic anaemia or a genetic condition affecting your blood, bone marrow or immune system
    • blood cancer that is unlikely to be cured by chemotherapy alone
    • anyone needing a stem cell transplant who does not have another suitable stem cell donor.

    When a patient is treated with their own cells, it is defined as an autologous transplant; if they receive cells from a donor the transplant is allogenic. 

    In the UK, parents can choose to store their baby’s cord blood privately, or donate to a public bank. 

    Private banking is the only way to guarantee that matching stem cells are available should your child or matched relative ever need a haematopoietic stem cell transplant. 

    It is particularly important to store privately if a member of your family has a condition such as sickle cell disease, which can be cured with matching HSCs. Some families also choose to store cord blood to treat an older relative who has received a blood or immune disease diagnosis.

    For other conditions however, there may be a genetic predisposition to that disease, and in these cases a patient may not be able to use his or her own stem cells. In this situation a matched sibling’s stem cells would be the first choice before looking for alternative donors.

    For most families, cord blood and tissue storage is an insurance policy they hope never to use. The steady rise in life-enhancing as well as life-saving stem cell therapies, however, suggests we may all use regenerative treatments one day.

    Download our brochure to find out more r call our team on 01752 753723.

    References

    Why parents should save their baby’s cord blood — and give it away, Harvard Health

    Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood

    Cord blood donation, NHS Cord Blood Bank

    Cord blood banking – what you need to know, FDA

    What is a cord blood transplant? Anthony Nolan

    How umbilical cord blood can save someone’s life, Cancer

    Cord blood stem cell transplantation, The Leukaemia and Lymphoma Society

  2. Happy Father’s Day from Biovault Family – Here’s a special gift for dads!

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    We’re counting down to Father’s Day – a wonderful day where we celebrate the amazing role dads play in our lives.

    To celebrate, we’re offering an amazing 15% off ALL of our packages when you order before 5pm on 19th June.

    Simply click on the button below to start your order and use code DAD15 in the voucher code box. Your 15% discount will be added to your final invoice.

    Our offer

    Family package

    Our Family package stores your baby’s cord blood with an annual, 25- or 50-year option. With our 15% offer, you’ll pay the below:

    Family Annual –

    Original cost – £1,650

    Discount cost – £1,402.50

    Annual cost – £60 per year storage

    After a deposit of £160, this works out to £69.03 a month spread out over 18 months.

    Family 25 Years –

    Original cost – £2,150

    Discount cost – £1,827.50

    After a deposit of £160, this works out to £92.64 a month spread out over 18 months with nothing further to pay for 25 years.

    Family 50 Years –

    Original cost – £3,150

    Discount cost – £2,677.50

    After a deposit of £160, this works out to £139.86 a month spread out over 18 months with nothing further to pay for 50 years.

    Family Plus

    Our Family Plus package stores your baby’s cord blood and cord tissue, with an annual, 25 or 50 year option. With our 15% offer, you’ll pay the below:

    Family Plus Annual –

    Original cost – £1,950

    Discount cost – £1,657.50

    Annual cost – £90 per year storage

    After a deposit of £160, this works out to £83.19 a month spread out over 18 months.

    Family Plus 25 Years –

    Original cost – £2,650

    Discount cost – £2,252.50

    After a deposit of £160, this works out to £116.25 a month spread out over 18 months with nothing further to pay for 25 years.

    Family Plus 50 Years –

    Original cost – £4,050

    Discount cost – £3,442.50

    After a deposit of £160, this works out to £182.36 a month spread out over 18 months with nothing further to pay for 50 years.

    The only other charge, should you require it, is a one-off payment of £300 for a phlebotomist to collect the cord blood and / or cord tissue.

    Why should I store my baby’s cord blood and cord tissue?

    Your baby’s cord blood and cord tissue contain life-saving stem cells – these stem cells are amazing!

    Cord blood contains haemopoietic stem cells that can differentiate into different types of blood cells – red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets. These cells are used to treat blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukaemia and also other immunodeficiency diseases.

    Cord tissue contains mesenchymal stem cells that can turn into tissue cells, such as nerve, bone, tendon and muscle. Cord tissue is currently being used in an impressive number of clinical trials in terms of regenerative medicine to treat conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Cerebral Palsy, to name a few.

    After birth, these stem cells are at their healthiest. Collection takes place after birth, so there’s no risk to you or your new baby. You can also delayed cord clamping in line with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines.

    There is a small window of opportunity to store these amazing cells – usually these are thrown away with the placenta after birth. By banking them, you are protecting your child well into adulthood.

    Why choose Biovault Family?

    There are numerous reasons to choose us to bank your child’s cord blood and cord tissue. For now, here’s just a few. We:

    • Offer a fully inclusive package saving up to £5,000 compared to other blood banks with no additional storage charges if you store for 25 or 50 years
    • Transfer the storage element of your fee to a separate Escrow account. This gives you complete peace of mind in case anything happens.
    • Partner with the NHS, so we have higher accreditations than any of the other blood banks and we release stem cells back into the NHS daily
    • Offer 1 year’s free StemCellCare insurance, which pays out a lump sum of £75,000 if you need to use your stem cells
    • Store in one location – Once your stem cells have been processed, they are in an extremely fragile state. Due to this we believe the risk of damage occurring during transit is higher than the risk of a catastrophic event occurring at our facility
    • Have a voucher referral scheme – hand out your vouchers to anyone who is pregnant, and if they sign up to our services you receive a £100 love to shop voucher and they receive a 10% discount – these vouchers are unlimited for you. If you are on the 0% payment plan, get £100 off your balance instead!
    • Are also a Human Tissue Bank – the other companies are blood banks only

    More affordable than other cord blood banks

    Our Family Plus 25- and 50-year packages are inclusive of annual storage. Other blood banks will charge you an annual storage fee, which can increase the amount you pay by £2,500 over 25 years or an incredible £5,000 over 50 years.

    Whilst many discount their initial package costs with an offer, the annual storage means you can sometimes be paying twice as much.

    Have a look at our price comparison page to see how our standard cord blood / cord blood and cord tissue packages compare to our competitors.

    Terms and Conditions

    Please note that this offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Any orders placed after 5pm on 19th June will not receive the 15% discount. The discount is as stated.

  3. Come see us at The Baby and Toddler Show in Liverpool, 28th – 29th May

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    Our team are heading to The Baby and Toddler Show in Liverpool this weekend, 28 to 29 May, and we can’t wait to meet expectant parents.

    Win a Moses basket

    Visit our stand on F12 for your chance to win a beautiful Moses basket worth £100 from The Little Green Sheep.

    All you need to do is to scan the QR code on the stand, enter your detail and wait to see if you’re the lucky winner!

    Buy tickets

    There are plenty of great offers on tickets for The Baby and Toddler Show.

    Save 40% – Enjoy an amazing saving of 40% with code EXLP70.

    We also have 50 complimentary ticket on offer – use code EXLP55 to enjoy free entry.

    Hope to see you there!

    Got a question in the meantime?

    Get in touch with our team who will be able to answer all your questions about cord blood and cord tissue banking.

  4. Can Type 1 diabetes be cured with stem cells?

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    It’s good to know that stem cell therapy holds great potential for curing patients with Type 1 diabetes. As experts in the collection and storage of umbilical cord blood, we’re fascinated by the research. Let’s take a look at the details behind this exciting discovery. 

    How many people are suffering from diabetes worldwide?

    According to the International Diabetes Foundation, diabetes is spiralling out of control across the world. One in ten of us is currently living with diabetes, and the number of children being diagnosed with the condition is rising fast. 

    What is diabetes? 

    Diabetes is a lifelong medical condition. It causes your blood sugar level to sky rocket. The two main types of the disease are Type 1, where the immune system attacks and destroys the cells that make insulin. Type 2, where the body does not produce enough insulin or cells don’t react to it, is usually down to obesity.  Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. It regulates blood sugar levels, helping the glucose from food enter the body’s cells where they’re used for energy. In this article we’re looking at Type 1 diabetes, the cause of which remains mostly a mystery. Research is still being carried out to pin down what triggers the immune system to destroy beta cells in Type 1 diabetes.

    How is diabetes treated?

    Balance sits at the heart of treatment for Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes management is a lifelong task. The condition doesn’t respond to lifestyle changes, medicines or medical devices. Because there’s no cure and no simple way to treat it, treatment is all about balancing the perfect amount of insulin in the body to keep a patient’s blood glucose levels from falling to low or getting too high. 

    This involves being given insulin, either via an injection or by infusion via a special insulin pump. Luckily, these days, both processes are quick, discreet and often painless. But it’s a hassle for patients having to give themselves constant injections. Can stem cell therapy help? 

    How are we using stem cells to understand diabetes?

    The scientific community is using stem cell therapy to come to a better understanding of Type 1 diabetes. There have been several studies so far but experts say while it has promise, more research is required to prove the theory. 

    What is the potential for stem cells to treat diabetes?

    Autoimmunity is a big problem for people with Type 1 diabetes. Even if treatments create or provide new beta cells for a patient, their immune system will eventually target and destroy the new cells. New treatments need to also deal with this aspect of the disease, preventing new beta cells from being damaged and destroyed. So far this has involved immune suppressants, which can increase the infection risk. It’s far from ideal. 

    Luckily there’s good potential to treat type 1 diabetes with stem cells in future. First, we need longer and larger trials to establish the facts properly, without any doubts.   

    One patient in a recent study where people were given stem cell therapy for three months saw good results. Beforehand they were using 34 daily units of insulin to control the condition. After three months of stem cell therapy the patient used just 2.9 units of insulin daily. While they still had diabetes, their condition had ‘improved’. But this was just one person, and a trial with one positive reaction cannot prove a theory. 

    This experimental treatment of Type 1 diabetes with stem cells is still in the early development stages. Vertex Pharmaceuticals were responsible for the research and they revealed the preliminary results in October 2021. As the Everyday Health website reports, “Stem cell therapies involve replacing diseased or dysfunctional cells with healthy ones. All these lab experiments eventually led to VX-880, an infusion of replacement islet cells derived from embryonic stem cells. This is not only a potential breakthrough in the treatment of type 1 diabetes, it’s also one of the first practical demonstrations that embryonic stem cells might indeed be used to make treatments that replace dysfunctional cells — in this case islet cells in the pancreas”

    The answer to the all-important question, can stem cell therapy cure Type 1 diabetes, is still being researched and trialled. It’s too early to ask for the treatment, but the signs at this stage are optimistic. 

    What is the clinical status of cell-based therapies for diabetes? 

    Stem cell treatments for type 1 diabetes are still at an early clinical stage. The current research is looking into using pluripotent stem cells to create fresh beta cells to be transplanted into patients with Type 1 diabetes. At the moment trials are experimenting with devices and capsules designed to protect transplanted stem cell-derived precursor cells of new beta cells from the patient’s own immune system. The scientists involved are also examining the potential for special drugs to make the cells in the pancreas create more beta cells naturally. 

    Come back soon to find out about the latest research and science on umbilical cord blood stem cells and other innovative types of stem cell therapy. 

    Disclaimer:

    No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

    Sources

  5. Visit us at The Baby and Toddler Show in Glasgow for your chance to win

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    Our team are heading to The Baby and Toddler Show in Glasgow this weekend, 22nd to 24th April, and can’t wait to meet expectant parents.

    Win a Moses basket

    Visit our stand on C75 for your chance to win a beautiful Moses basket worth £100 from The Little Green Sheep.

    All you need to do is to scan the QR code, enter your detail sand wait to see if you’re the lucky winner!

    Buy tickets

    There are plenty of great offers on tickets for The Baby and Toddler Show.

    Save 40% – Enjoy an amazing saving of 40% with code EXGL70

    We also have 50 complimentary ticket on offer – use code EXCL22 to enjoy free entry.

    Hope to see you there!

    Jo Kingston

    BSc (Hons) Chemistry

    Sales Manager | Biovault Family

    Jo joined Biovault Family in 2019 as the Sales Manager. With her Science degree & her passion for the healthcare industry and background in the Pharmaceutical & Biotech industry, Biovault Family was the perfect fit. Jo is enthusiastic about Umbilical Cord Banking and her goal is educating all expecting couples in the UK about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to store their baby’s cord blood & cord tissue.

  6. Biovault is a brilliant run company with compassion and heart

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    Portia Jett is married to British television, radio presenter and actor Ore Oduba and in October the couple had their second baby Genie, a brother to Roman. They chose to bank her precious umbilical cord blood with Biovault Family.

    Here they talk about their experience with Biovault Family.

    What was your experience like of umbilical cord blood banking with Biovault Family?

    From the moment we started the process to store Genie’s umbilical cord blood it has been so straightforward and really easy. The team, especially Jo, was on hand if we had any questions and had all the information we needed.

    How did you feel when your cord blood banking kit arrived? 

    We were both so excited! We had wanted to look into umbilical cord blood banking with Roman but never got round to it which we regret, so having the opportunity to do it this time around with Genie was brilliant. Also, the kit comes in a really beautiful, decorative box which is a bonus!

    Did it all go smoothly with the phlebotomist?

    It did, yes. The information and details supplied by Biovault make it very easy to follow especially when you are in labour and you have A LOT to think about. You are given your phlebotomist number in advance as well as a backup number just in case. So, everything is very well thought through. 

    The stem cells in cord blood can currently be used to treat more than 80 diseases. How important do you think it is to spread the word about the importance of cord blood banking?

    For us as a family, it was the right decision. If the unthinkable were ever to happen and we could save/help our children/family members with the use of the stem cells why wouldn’t you? With them being able to treat over 80 diseases it was a no brainer for us and we just hope more families look into this whilst pregnant.

    What would you say to anyone who has never heard about stem cell banking?

    Check it out! The team at Biovault are always on the other end of the phone to help talk you through the process and for you to find out more.

    What can we do to help more people become aware of the importance of banking cord blood?

    It needs to be talked about more within parenting groups maybe including NCT classes. It does come at an additional cost and we understand this, but if you can, we do believe parents should be made aware of the benefits of storing the cord before it is disposed of.

    What has your experience been like with Biovault Family?

    It’s been such a positive experience and one I would recommend to anyone. Biovault is a brilliantly run company with compassion and heart at the forefront of everything they do and they just want to help expecting parents in any way they can.

    What would be your advice for any parent’s looking to bank their baby’s cord blood?

    Definitely have a look into this if it is something that is right for you both. Ask those questions that you need answering – the team are there to always help and put your mind at ease on anything. 

    Did the process work as you expected it to? 

    As we had a very quick birth with our first we let the Biovault family and phlebotomist know this in advance so that they could get to the hospital in time. As predicted we had another quick birth and the team were great, they had our notes and when we made the call in the evening she was there at the hospital ready to store the umbilical cord blood and tissue.

    Was it easy?

    It is super easy as you are given a step by step guide for you and your birthing partner to follow, so you know exactly what to do and who to call on the day, it couldn’t be simpler. 

    What does it mean to you that you’ve chosen to bank your baby’s cord blood?

    It means a lot. Its puts our minds at rest knowing that we have those precious stem cells stored away safely for many years to come.

    Since we’ve stored the cells we’ve been telling all our friends and family about it and everyone has been so surprised how brilliant it is and how it’s not widely known about. So we are happy to be spreading the word.

    Interested? Find out more

    If you’d like to know more about cord blood banking for your little one, you can download our brochure to find out more or you can chat with our lovely team who can explain the amazing benefits of saving the precious stem cells found in cord blood and cord tissue.

  7. Meet Kate Sneddon – World leader in stem cells

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    Since 2004, Biovault Family has collected, processed and released cord blood stem cells to treat leukaemia, neuroblastoma, sickle cell disease, cerebral palsy and more. Stem cell therapy could ultimately treat a huge range of conditions including Alzheimer’s, hearing loss, and even spinal cord injury. Biovault is the only UK cord blood bank working in partnership with NHS hospitals and it’s led by CEO Kate Sneddon.

    No wonder so many women put Kate Sneddon on a pedestal. As a personality she’s calm, peaceful and beautiful, widely revered in the business world she swims so confidently in. How did she get where she is? And what attributes have sealed her success as a senior female in a world where men still mostly rule the roost? 

    Back in 2009 Kate Sneddon, who lives in Cornwall with her husband Ken, two daughters and Cocker Spaniel puppy Piper, joined Biovault Family. In 2016, just seven years later, she accepted the role of Chief Executive Officer. A respected microbiologist who worked with GSK for more than a decade, these days Kate’s expertise in cord blood banking is widely recognised through a collection of awards as well as features in respected publications and contributions to high-profile research projects.

    As Chief Executive Officer at Biovault, Kate manages a group of companies including Biovault Technical and Biovault Family. She loves working for a small, agile company that makes fast decisions involving experts from across the organisation. Engaging with customers and people – in her spare time she’s a governor at a local school and Chair of the Plymouth Health Innovation Alliance Executive Group – is a vital skill, especially when faced with seemingly unrealistic aims, pinning down exactly what the customer wants then developing a suitable product and process.

    At the same time, it’s important to realise an individual can’t do everything. The internal and external delegation has helped Kate and the Biovault team do a better job, avoiding being drawn into the fine detail when there’s neither need nor benefit. It’s about working smarter rather than harder.  

    As you can imagine, the potential locked inside stem cells always generate strong media interest. Kate works hard to make sure the messages Biovault broadcasts are unbiased and ethical, giving an accurate picture of what these cells really can be used for. Despite the media furore, stem cell banking take-up remains comparatively low in the UK, a fact that drives her to keep on raising awareness. 

    Three things have supported Kate in her journey so far as a woman in the world of business, and bravery is one of them. In her words, “When I’m nervous I put my game face on and give it my best. It’s the most any of us can do.” Knowing the subject is another. When you have all the facts at your fingertips you’re confident and credible. And integrity is the third. “Commit to something, then do it. If you can’t or it isn’t relevant anymore, explain why not clearly and honestly.” 

    Today’s business landscape remains challenging for women and, in Kate’s opinion, the challenges faced by working women in future will probably be much the same. Developing a solid store of knowledge, expertise and confidence will, in her view, help women succeed, as will making sure future business models work fairly for all genders. Support from the government matters, and she places special emphasis on inclusive childcare support. There’s a lot more work needed before both men and women can work flexibly around family life. 

    Will all this bring more women like Kate to the boardroom? Hopefully. A better boardroom gender balance breaks down barriers, delivers more business opportunities, and inspires more people to aim for boardroom positions. But first, the world of work needs to break down the gender stereotypes we face from childhood. In a balanced world, there wouldn’t be any gender stereotypes. It wouldn’t even occur to children.

    Achieving the change is an enormous ask thanks to the many small but potent messages given out every day that unconsciously affect our children. Kate does her best to counteract these when she notices them in her own two daughters. As she says, “My children sometimes feel limited because of their gender. I do my best to positively reinforce the message that gender isn’t important, that we can achieve anything we want to.” 

    Kate is hugely optimistic about the next generation of working women, born with the internet and mobile technologies and naturally able to adopt and run with new tech. This will deliver dramatic business advantages around efficiency, marketing and customer communications, particularly via Artificial Intelligence and the findings that fall out of Big Data analysis. 

    Both Kate and her husband work for organisations that employ more women than men. It’s perfectly normal in healthcare. She’s delighted to see sectors traditionally dominated by men, for example, the tech industry, beginning to target girls at school in an effort to break down the old barriers, and she hopes this will continue and spread. 

    So what inspires Kate on to ever-greater things? It isn’t celebrities. It isn’t world leaders. It’s actually the “knowledge, ability and resilience of women who I routinely interact with who have skills and expertise I don’t.”  These include her colleagues at the Biovault, her children’s headteacher, and her fitness and yoga, instructors. They’re all women. And while they face the same day by day issues as the rest of us, they excel in their chosen field. 

    Kate’s advice is to follow your own star, do what you love, keep your options open, notice when you’re given the chance to broaden your experience and absorb as much knowledge as you can. As she concludes, “I’m seeing, as time passes, a steady improvement in the potential for women at every level in business. Being in a position to move the needle and help change things faster means such a lot to me.” 

    And for Kate, aside from her job, doing what she loves involves making the most of living in the South West, exploring beaches locally and further afield in the family camper van, and cold water swimming and paddle boarding throughout the year. 

    Like what you hear? Talk to our team today to find out more about stem cells – download our brochure for more information, call the team on 01752 753723 or book a free consultation now.

  8. Umbilical cord blood transplant cures a woman of HIV 

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    More than 40 years after the HIV virus was first encountered researchers are still fighting to develop ways to cure HIV, including a range of potential gene therapies. Now one New York woman has been cured of HIV, which remains one of humanity’s most ‘resilient’ viruses. 

    HIV AIDS arrived in the late ‘70s. By the early ‘80s, it was rife, and a brand new pandemic had arrived. In 2020 alone, about 690,000 people died of the virus. Now there’s ‘VB’, a new and more infectious variant of the HIV virus. Luckily it’s treatable.

    There are hints about a cancer drug that could one day work alongside an existing HIV medicine to kill the virus. That’s one for the future. But a few days ago we heard some truly wonderful news about a woman who has been cured of HIV thanks to an umbilical cord blood transplant. Here’s what you need to know. 

    2007’s landmark HIV cure

    In 2007, Timothy Ray Brown was the first person to be cured of HIV. His transplant, from a donor who was naturally resistant to HIV, worked. Since then it has only happened twice more, once for a man called Adam Castillejo, and once with the current female New York patient, we’re discussing. All three people had cancer, needing a stem cell transplant to survive, and curing HIV wasn’t the main aim of the treatment. 

    New York City’s HIV therapy triumph 

    The woman was given a transplant of umbilical cord blood. The other two people we mentioned who have been ‘cured’ of AIDS were given adult stem cells from bone marrow. Umbilical cord blood is much more widely available compared to the adult stem cells used for the first two cures. And it also doesn’t come with the need for a close match between the donor and the recipient, either.

    The woman stopped taking antiretroviral drugs in October 2020 after a transplant of stem cells containing a rare genetic mutation that blocks HIV invasion. Since then she hasn’t seen any detectable signs of HIV virus despite extensive testing. Now she’s being hailed as the third person in the world, and the first female, to be cured of the virus that has killed countless millions.

    It all began with leukaemia treatment 

    Experts say the transplant method is too risky for most HIV patients. This is the first time it has been used as a ‘functional cure’ for HIV. The woman, who was suffering from the blood cancer leukaemia, was given a stem cell transplant taken from a person who had a natural resistance to the virus that causes AIDS. Now she has been free of the AIDS virus for 14 months. 

    The transplanted cells had a genetic mutation that stops the HIV virus from infecting them. Scientists think the woman’s immune system has developed resistance to HIV. This is amazing news for us, adding another string to an already impressive bow of potential umbilical blood stem cell treatments for nasty illnesses.  It also brings hope to the millions of people – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa – who are living with the HIV virus. 

    What does the future hold for umbilical cord stem cells and a cure for HIV? 

    As Sharon Lewin, president of the International Aids Society, says, while this transplant method isn’t viable for most people living with HIV, it ‘confirms that a cure for HIV is possible and further strengthens using gene therapy as a viable strategy for an HIV cure.’ 

    While the study is yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, and a scientific consensus hasn’t yet been reached, it’s hopeful. And when you’re living with AIDS, hope means a lot. 

    Bank your baby’s umbilical cord blood

    You never know when your child may become sick. By taking a few minutes to bank your baby’s stem cells after birth, you could protect them for years to come. Talk to our team today – download our brochure to find out more or book your free consultation!

    Sources

    stem cell preservation

    BSc (Hons) Microbiology

    Chief Executive Officer | Biovault Family

    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.

  9. Plymouth-based Biovault Family supports free baby safety workshops for all

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    Plymouth-based Biovault Family has announced a new partnership with The Baby Academy to provide free baby safety workshops.

    The sessions are available on line via My Baby Academy and provide parents with practical advice on topics such as allergic reactions in babies, baby rashes, teething, baby ear infections, and administering medicine correctly to your baby.

    Biovault Family is the UK’s largest private human tissue bank which is licensed to handle all human tissue types including cord blood and tissue.

    Jo Kingston, head of sales at Biovault Family, said: “We are all so passionate about making baby safety accessible to all, and wanted to support a programme that gave provision for this in a fun way. The Baby Academy is run by a brilliant team of experts who share their knowledge on all sorts of topics around baby safety and we’re proud to be supporting this initiative. The workshops are completely free of charge to all parents across the UK.”

    Based in Plymouth’s International Medical and Technology Park beside its partners at Derriford Teaching Hospital, Biovault Family has led the way in human tissue processing and storage since 2004. It provides both tissue and cellular processing and storage to the NHS and to strategic private partners around the world.  

    It also has an umbilical cord blood and tissue banking service, a process in which cord blood — a rich source of stem cells — is taken from the umbilical cord of a new born baby after delivery and stored for future use, either for personal use, or by a close member of the family.

    Jo explained: “A baby’s umbilical cord is possibly the richest available source of stem cells they will ever have. With cord blood banking, you can collect these powerful cells from the umbilical cord and tissue and store them for use in stem cell therapies.

    “It’s believed that cord blood stem cells are one of the cornerstones of regenerative medicine and these stem cells are currently being used in thousands of clinical trials for many incurable diseases, such as cerebral palsy, autism and diabetes

    In the future, they could be used to repair your baby’s damaged tissue, regenerate old organs or even replace body parts.”

    My Baby Academy provides a number of courses led by a team of health professionals and delivered online in real-time on an interactive platform. You can book your free place. You can find out more about cord blood banking.