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Tag Archive: Knowledge and Understanding

  1. November 15th is World Cord Blood Day

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    The clocks are counting down to World Cord Blood Day 2021, an exciting event made up of an Online Virtual Conference supported by a host of inspiring live events across the globe. It’s open to the public and is recommended for parents as well as healthcare professionals. The strapline says it all: “Even just one conversation could save a life”. So what is World Cord Blood Day all about? Why do we believe it’s such an important event for anyone who’s trying for a baby? Read on to find out…   

    Why do we celebrate World Cord Blood Month? 

    July 2021 marked Cord Blood Awareness Month, a full four weeks of exposure revealing the many thrilling medical advances around umbilical cord blood. 

    Cord blood deserves an awareness month simply because the banking of cord blood isn’t mainstream, despite its medical advantages. Every parent deserves to know exactly how umbilical cord blood can help secure the future health of their children. Every mum and dad appreciates the many benefits of collecting and storing their new born child’s cord blood. 

    We celebrate World Cord Blood Day for the same reasons and this year the event takes place on 15th November.  

    What is Cord Blood Day?

    Cord Blood Day is a worldwide event rich in vital information. You can find an event near you, ask the experts questions after the conference, join in with the Global Virtual Conference taking place on the big day, and enjoy a collection of interactive games and videos

    What is cord blood used for?

    Cord blood stem cells have been used to treats more than 80 diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma, and sickle cell anemia. Cord blood stem cells research is also expanding into regenerative medicine. Studies suggest there may be applications for spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, autism, type 1 diabetes and more. This is why we encourage parents to consider collecting and storing cord blood from their new born babies. 

    It’s a simple and easy process, something your birth partner and / or midwife can help you with. Once the cells are stored we can keep them for as long as 50 years. There for your child as they grow and age. You might just be saving your children’s good health for many years to come.  

    World Cord Blood Day was born from a strong need to improve cord blood education. Back in 1998 a cord blood stem cell transplant was carried out by Dr Eliane Gluckman in France. It saved a young boy who was fighting Fanconi Anemia. This inspired doctors around the globe to explore the possibilities of cord blood. So far there have been more than 40,000 cord blood transplants worldwide.  

    Despite all this more than 98% of births around the world still involve throwing cord blood away as medical waste. Parents deserve unbiased information about cord blood so that they can make the best choices, and that’s why World Cord Blood Day is so important. 

    Is cord blood good for the baby?

    In a word, yes. Cord blood is simply the blood left over in the umbilical cord and placenta after giving birth. It’s a powerful, non-controversial source of stem cells because it doesn’t involve taking cells from an embryo. The blood is collected after the birth quickly and easily. The collection process comes with no risk to the baby or mother. It has no impact on the process of giving birth, either. 

    Is cord blood better than bone marrow?

    Cord blood is a lot easier to collect, store and access quickly than bone marrow. Using one unit of umbilical cord blood for a stem cell transplant comes with significantly less risk of Graft versus Host Disease. This is always a risk for transplant patients. There seems to be less risk of a relapse for some diseases when cord blood is used. It’s easy to ship, and the stem cells can be made available for use by medical professionals to help your child within days.

    If you’d like to explore the potential for the banking of cord blood, we’re always happy to help with answers to your questions. Alternatively you can order your kit now, download a brochure, or schedule a friendly call with one of our expert team members. 


    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.

  2. Unique Aspects of Cord Blood Banking in the UK

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    Since the inception of umbilical cord blood stem cell cryopreservation in the 1990s, the number of public and privately banked units worldwide has grown to more than 800,0001 and 7 million2 respectively.  

    This new field of medicine has blossomed since the world’s first cord blood transplant took place in 1988, using sibling donor stem cells for a child with Fanconi Anaemia3.

    While the first cord blood transplant was performed in France, the transplanted cells were collected and cryogenically frozen in the US, and the patient was a US citizen.  Researchers in the US pioneered the initial scientific and business practices for cord blood banking that have now been adopted in many other countries.

    However, each country has its own healthcare system, cultural customs, and differences in the practice of medicine that lead to a unique approach to cord blood banking.

    One such example is the United Kingdom or UK. In this article we hope to clarify certain practices that are standard for cord blood banks operating in the UK. Oftentimes parents that have previously banked elsewhere, or have heard about cord blood banking from friends that banked elsewhere, are surprised to find that some things are different in the UK.

    In the US, most births are attended by Obstetricians. In the UK, Midwives are the healthcare professionals that attend to routine births. A consultant Obstetrician would only be involved in complex cases. 

    In addition, unless they are giving birth in a private hospital, parents in the UK do not have the opportunity to choose who will deliver their baby. Most parents are allocated Midwives or health visitors throughout the pregnancy based on the person that is available at the time of their appointment.

    The lack of an established relationship between healthcare providers and expectant parents in the UK makes all efforts at patient education or discussion of birth plans less personal.

    There are a few situations where cord blood banks have established partnerships that enable them to provide more parent education. One exception to the rule is a small number of maternity units that collect cord blood donations for UK public banks. Another exception is partnerships between UK family banks and NHS hospitals, which enable the private cord blood bank to distribute educational materials to all prospective parents intending to give birth in that hospital.  Both public and family banks in the UK have to look for other opportunities to educate and engage with parents about their options for banking cord blood or birth tissues.

    As in most countries, public banks in the UK only collect from a limited number of hospitals, hence for most parents that are inspired by the value of cord blood their only viable option is family banking.

    Unique to the UK, outside of private hospitals, cord blood is not collected by the Midwife or the Obstetrician.  In the UK, parents that want to save their cord blood are required to arrange for a Phlebotomist to attend the birth to perform the collection. 

    Parents may be shocked to learn that the Phlebotomist is mandatory and can cost over £300. Family banks will arrange this service for their parents and have agreements in place with private Phlebotomy companies to facilitate the service. 

    Due to these two circumstances in the UK, the lack of parent-provider relationships and the extra charges for cord blood collection, the adoption of cord blood banking in the UK is about ten times lower than the US, at 0.3%.

    Customer contracts for private cord blood banking in the UK are also a point of difference compared to what parents are accustomed to in some other countries. In the US, family banks charge an initial fee for the collection kit and processing, followed by an annual storage fee for each year the stem cells are kept in cryopreservation.

    In the UK, until quite recently all family banks charged upfront for both processing and storage, with up to 25 years of storage included in the price. Some UK banks now offer the option to pay for storage annually, but often without fully discounting the upfront payment, effectively increasing the net price. 

    One aspect of cord blood banking that is common worldwide is bold and misleading advertising. In both the US and UK, some banks claim to extract several times more stem cells from cord blood than their competitors.

    The reality is that most banks use similar processing methods based on well-established protocols, and any method that really did yield much higher efficiency would be rapidly adopted by all banks. 

    So, for expectant parents looking for a cord blood bank in any country, we would urge them to look at experience, accreditations, financial security and ethics when making a choice of family bank.

    About the Author:

    Kate Sneddon is the CEO at Biovault Family, the family banking arm of the Biovault human tissue bank. Established in 2003, Biovault provides provides both tissue and cellular processing and storage to the NHS and to strategic private partners around the world.  The tissue, primarly bone and tendons, is provided for the treatment of injuries in both NHS and private hospitals.  The cellular therapies, including blood and marrow products, are provided both to the NHS to treat blood cancers and privately stored for individual use in the future. Biovault Family offers private storage of umbilical cord blood and umbilical cord tissue. Biovault Family has always strived to offer products and services that are based on ethical scientific and medical practices and will be of true value to families. To find out more please visit


    1 – WMDA annual reports

    2- Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation newsletter Nov.2018: World’s Top 10 Cord Blood Banks by Inventory and Industry Consolidation

    3- Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation newsletter Sept. 2015: Interview with Matt Farrow, Recipient of World’s 1st Cord Blood Transplant

    4- Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation newsletter Jan. 2020: Percentage of births banking cord blood by country

    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.

  3. September is blood cancer awareness month

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    Cord blood transplants provide an opportunity for a cure from blood cancer with siblings offering the best chance of finding a match

    September marks Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Every year, more than 2,000 people in the UK with a blood cancer or blood disorder are in need of a potentially lifesaving blood stem cell donation from an unrelated person. 

    Cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord and placenta of healthy newborns and it has an important and growing role in the treatment of more than 80 diseases, including blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. That’s because the umbilical cord contains something very precious: hematopoietic stem cells.

    Hematopoietic stem cells are the immature blood-forming cells found in everyone’s blood and bone marrow. These little cells have an important job. They change into the red or white blood cells and platelets your body needs to stay healthy and they are very good at fighting cancer.

    They have been tested in both child and adult cancer patients and these studies have identified several advantages to umbilical-cord cell transplantation, including a lower incidence of graft-versus-host disease. Umbilical-cord blood is therefore a promising alternative to bone-marrow-derived stem cells.

    As a source of stem cells for people with cancer, cord blood has major advantages. Cord blood collections used for donor transplants are stored frozen in public cord blood banks. Because cord blood is in frozen storage, it is available right away. This makes the transplant easy to schedule. It is also good for people who need an urgent transplant.

    Cord blood has another advantage. Because the immune system of a newborn baby is not yet fully developed, the match that’s required between the cord blood donation and the patient is less strict. This means that cord blood can safely be used even if the donor cells have a less than perfect match.

    The test that’s used to identify appropriate donors is called HLA matching. HLA stands for human leukocyte antigen. HLAs are proteins that are present on most cells in your body. Your immune system uses HLAs to recognize which cells belong in your body. When using an adult donor, it’s important that the donor and the person undergoing the transplant have HLAs that match so the donor immune system doesn’t attack the patient’s normal tissues, a complication called graft-versus-host disease.

    A person’s HLA type is inherited from their parents, which is why siblings offer the best chance of finding a match and why it is important for all new parents to consider this future health insurance.

    Cord blood cells are also very good at fighting cancer. This ability is called the graft-versus-leukemia effect. It can help prevent a person’s cancer from returning after their transplant.

    If you are considering saving your baby’s cord blood, please do get in touch.

    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.

  4. Perinatal Tissue as an Advanced Cellular Therapy Product

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    Perinatal tissue, such as umbilical cord blood, umbilical cord tissue and placental tissue, is a valuable source of cells for advanced cellular therapies. This includes mesenchymal stem/stromal cells and blood cells such as haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPC), natural killer cells and T-cells.  Whilst there are currently no approved therapies for umbilical cord tissue derived MSCs, there are clinical trials, in varying stages, for a multitude of conditions including spinal cord injury, stroke, and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

    In contrast, umbilical cord blood is currently approved for use as a treatment option for more than 80 conditions, from blood-based cancers such as leukaemia, to metabolic disorders and immune system disorders 1. In addition, there are numerous clinical trials involving umbilical cord blood for conditions such as Crohn’s disease, lupus, and type 1 diabetes amongst others. To maximise their potential as an advanced cellular therapy, there is a requirement to increase the overall number of cells that can be derived from these perinatal tissues, without having a detrimental effect on their ability to function as a therapeutic.   

    Here, we will focus on umbilical cord blood-HSPCs, whilst a valuable source of HSPCs for transplantation, a limitation exists in that the number within one unit is finite. This results in a cap to the dose of HSPCs that can be achieved from one unit and as such usually restricts the use of umbilical cord blood to children.

    To overcome this in the clinic, double umbilical cord blood transplants are being performed, where two units are transplanted simultaneously to increase the overall dose of cells. In addition to this, methods to increase the number of HSPCs via expansion are being investigated and are being tested in clinical trials, these involve the inclusion of specific molecules in the growth media to support expansion. For any expanded umbilical cord blood product to reach the clinic and become a standard treatment option, methods for the manufacturing of a reliable final product for transplantation are essential, as well as the ability to manufacture at the required output to meet clinical demand. 

    Bioreactors are a platform within which cells can be expanded. In these systems, the environment surrounding the cells can be monitored and controlled providing a more uniform environment for growth, including temperature, pH and oxygen levels. These systems are incredibly useful tools that can be utilised to produce advanced cell therapies, which will aid in improving the quality and reliability of the therapeutic 2.

    In addition there may be a reduction in manufacturing costs (which will make it more likely for a therapeutic to become common clinical practice) and also the ability to scale the process to meet clinical demand be that for a personalised targeted therapy or for a broader general therapeutic. 

    The image below represents a potential flow through for the manufacturing of an advanced cellular therapy from perinatal tissue. After the birth of the child, the perinatal tissue is collected by a health care professional using the provided collection kit. The blood and/or tissue is then packaged and transported to a processing facility, usually a cord blood bank which may be either public or private. Once received the processing facility will perform a primary processing step, which will be dependent on the cord blood bank’s standard operating procedures.

    The product may then be frozen via cryopreservation to preserve the perinatal tissue until required. Whether cryopreservation is utilised or not, it is likely a secondary processing step will then be performed to purify or isolate the specific cells of interest from the other cells contained within the blood or tissue. 

    The next step may then be what is known as a seed train, in this step isolated cells are expanded to increase their number for subsequent expansion in a bioreactor. During the operation of the bioreactor, critical process parameters, which have been determined through research, will be set, and maintained, providing a consistent environment for cell expansion, and real time monitoring of the process conditions provides a level of quality control that is not present when using other systems, such as culture flasks. 

    Once the cells have reached the desired number, as defined by the final product requirements, or after a set period of time, they will be harvested from the bioreactor and undergo final cell processing. During this stage, the cells will be formulated for their final use and quality control checked to ensure they meet specification. The final product may be distributed to the hospital immediately for use or could undergo cryopreservation for use at a later date. 

    At Biovault, in collaboration with University College London, we have been working towards the development of a stirred tank bioreactor-based expansion strategy for umbilical cord blood-HSPCs. As part of this we have transitioned from a simple static expansion to a shaken system and into a stirred tank bioreactor. The shaken system demonstrated significant improvement for the expansion of umbilical cord blood-HSPCs compared to the static system, resulting in an average 4 times more total nucleated cells and, importantly, 8 times more stem cells compared to the static system. In addition, we have also demonstrated improved growth in a stirred tank bioreactor achieving 8 times more nucleated cells and 10 times more stem cells than the static system.

    This data is currently preliminary, and we are continuing to optimise the process for the stirred tank bioreactor to further enhance the expansion capability and uniformity of the final product. In addition to umbilical cord blood-HSPCs we are also making progress towards developing platforms for the manufacturing of advanced cellular therapies from other perinatal tissues, including umbilical cord tissue mesenchymal stem/stromal cells. 


    1. Verter F., et al. Diseases treated. Parents Guide to Cord Blood Foundation,2018.
    2. Eaker S., et al. Bioreactors for cell therapies: Current status and future advances. Cytotherapy, 2017: 19(1): 9-18. 
    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.

  5. Your 2020 Guide to Cord Blood Awareness Month

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    July is our favourite time of the year. Why? Because its Cord Blood Awareness Month which aims to raise awareness of the importance of umbilical cord blood and the amazing powers of newborn stem cells.

    We’ve put together some common questions about umbilical cord blood and saving our newborn baby’s stem cells. 

    If you’d like to know more, please do get in touch by messaging us on Facebook, or emailing

    Please help us spread the word about umbilical cord blood banking by sharing this article.

    What is cord blood?

    When your baby is born, the blood left inside the umbilical cord is very special. It contains powerful hematopoietic stem cells, which have a 30-year history of helping to save lives through transplant medicine.

    There’s also exciting research using cord blood for regenerative medicine, which aims to harness the powerful cells inside to help the body heal itself.

    What is cord tissue?

    Your baby’s umbilical cord is made of tissue. This tissue is home to several cell types, including mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which scientists think may be great at acting like a body’s emergency medical team.

    Umbilical cord tissue is full of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), one of the most widely researched cell types in the rapidly evolving area of regenerative medicine.

    MSCs have the ability to respond to inflammation and help repair tissue damage primarily by communicating with other cells in the body via sending and receiving signals.

    What is newborn stem cell preservation?

    Both cord blood and cord tissue are rich sources of powerful stem cells. Newborn stem cell preservation is the process of saving the blood and tissue from the umbilical cord, after birth, for potential future use.

    What makes newborn stem cells so special?

    Cord blood stem cells have been used in the treatment of over 80 conditions as part of a stem cell transplant.

    Today, stem cell research continues to evolve, bringing new hope to patients and their families.

    Who can potentially use my newborn’s cord blood?

    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.

    What does newborn stem cell preservation cost?

    We have a one-time processing fee for cord blood and cord tissue of £2,450, which includes 25 years of storage, two years free insurance, and free shipping anywhere in the world. Cord blood only, fully inclusive, is £1950. There are no annual storage fees to pay.

    To request a brochure please click here.

    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.

  6. Stem cells – can they suppress the global threat of Covid-19?

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    The new coronavirus (Covid-19) is spreading fast and the World Health Organization declared a pandemic last week.

    It first emerged in Wuhan, Hubei, China, in December 2019 and the source is believed to be a “wet market” which sold both dead and live animals including fish and birds. 

    Such markets pose a heightened risk of viruses jumping from animals to humans because hygiene standards are difficult to maintain if live animals are being kept and butchered on site. Typically, they are also densely packed.

    The animal source of the latest outbreak has not yet been identified, but the original host is thought to be bats. Bats were not sold at the Wuhan market but may have infected live chickens or other animals sold there. 

    The disease spread quickly to 26 countries worldwide representing a serious global public health threat. Hospitals and health systems are faced with a critical challenge to their operations and the fight to suppress the virus is on a global scale. 

    Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, dry cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory system injury with overwhelming inflammation in the lung. To date, there are no anti-viral therapeutics that specifically target human coronaviruses, so treatments are only supportive. 

    Scientific professions are throwing everything at suppressing the global threat of the virus – vaccines, drugs, stem cells and exosomes – and in recent months, there has been increased activity in the clinical trial sector using stem cells against symptoms of COVID-19. Nearly all of the current stem cells trials are being undertaken in China.

    While many approaches are being investigated, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are showing potential for the treatment of the symptoms of COVID-19.

    MSCs are multipotent stem cells found in bone marrow, adipose tissue and umbilical cord tissue that are important for making and repairing skeletal tissues, such as cartilage, bone and the fat found in bone marrow.

    They are receiving notable attention because past studies have found the secretions from MSCs to be effective at treating inflammation and cytokine storms.

    From early-stage studies, it appears that MSC may exert beneficial effects, potentially by improving the lung microenvironment, inhibiting immune system over-activation, protecting lung alveoli epithelial cells, promoting tissue repair, preventing pulmonary fibrosis, or improving lung function.

    Stem cell companies tackling Coronavirus world-wide


    Athersys has reported positive outcomes in other studies using MSCs in treating respiratory disease. Similarly, Mesoblast’s Remestemcel-L has proved itself to be effective in treating advanced respiratory distress.

    Cynata Therapeutics is exploring the capacity of its Cymerus™ platform to treat COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms, including acute respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis and cytokine release syndrome.

    Tianhe Stem Cell Biotechnologies and its division in China (Jinan Tianhe Stem Cell Biotechnology Co., Ltd.) have registered a clinical trial (NCT04299152) for evaluating its “Stem Cell Educator Therapy” against the symptoms of COVID-19.

    Pluristem Therapeutics is exploring its PLX cell product candidate for treating respiratory and inflammatory complications caused by the novel Coronavirus infection. 

    Vitro Biopharma is positioning its scalable manufacturing platform to provide stem cell therapies for symptoms of Coronavirus infections, working the government to present its its AlloRx™ stem cell therapy option.

    Furthermore, Celularity is working with Sorrento Therapeutics to evaluate the capacity of its cryopreserved placental-derived Natural Killer cell therapy (CYNK-001) for the treatment and prevention of the symptoms of Coronavirus infections. CYNK-001 has an open IND application with the FDA in blood cancers and the company has submitted this IND application for its use against COVID-19.

    Many other companies are also exploring how to manage the global surge of Coronavirus infections.

    Stem Cell Trials Against COVID-19

    Currently, and the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (WHO ICTRP) report a combined 29 trials exploring the potential of stem cells for treating the symptoms of COVID-19.

    There are 23 active stem cell trials for COVID-19, the vast majority of which utilize MSCs. 16 of the ongoing trials have Chinese Clinical Trial Register (“ChiCTR”) numbers and 7 have National Clinical Trial (NCT) numbers.

    When all trial types are considered, there are over 400 studies worldwide exploring approaches to diagnosing, treating or managing COVID-19. 

    The Race Toward a COVID-19 Vaccine 

    Dozens of companies are rushing vaccine development and proceeding toward clinical trials.

    As examples of vaccine development, the U.S. NIH initiated a Phase 1 trial in Seattle evaluating an investigational vaccine (mRNA-1273) created by NIAID scientists and their collaborators at Moderna. Sanofi and Regeneron launched a Phase 2/3 trial in New York evaluating the IL-6 targeted Kevzara.

    Inovio Pharmaceuticals has also announced that it will move its vaccine into human trials by April within the U.S.

    COVID-19: Market Competitors, Vaccines, Trials, and Potential Treatments

    To assess the global market that has rapidly emerged for Coronavirus related products and services, BioInformant has released a 52-page market report focused on ongoing eruption of COVID-19.

    The aim of this report is to gather existing research, assess the role of emerging market participants, and enable the reader to make sense of early research and development related to the Coronavirus outbreak.

    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.

  7. Biovault Family Celebrates Year of the Nurse and the Midwife 2020

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    When we think of a midwife, we probably imagine a person delivering babies. Of course, the primary role of a midwife is to assist women in childbirth. But that is not all midwives do.

    What does a midwife do?

    Midwives have perhaps the broadest skill set of any healthcare professional. As defined by The Lancet, midwives provide “skilled, knowledgeable and compassionate care for childbearing women, newborn infants and families… throughout pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, birth, postpartum and the early weeks of life.”

    This involves:

    • “optimizing normal biological psychological, social, and cultural processes of reproduction and early life;
    • timely prevention and management of complications;
    • consultation with and referral to other services;
    • respect for women’s individual circumstances and views,
    • and working in partnership with to strengthen women’s own capabilities to care for themselves and their families.”

    This means midwives care for the physical, mental and social health of prenatal and postnatal women, their babies and families.

    Why do we need a year of the midwife?

    According to the World Health Organisation, the world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.

    When we understand the role midwives play in the lives of each and every one of us (if we are lucky enough to live in a part of the world with midwife provision), we know that midwife care is essential. These specialist nurses are the pillar of strength every family needs during the transitional time of birth. They have the medical and social skills that keep us physically safe and mentally prepared to embark on a new chapter of life.

    Why is Biovault Family celebrating the Year of the Nurse and Midwife?

    Not having enough midwives to get every woman through birth into the next decade is a worldwide medical and social emergency.

    We were all fortunate enough to be watched over by a midwife in our first days and weeks; and those of us who are mums and dads know that we couldn’t have got through those early days without their calm support, reassurance and guidance.

    We work with expectant parents every day who store cord blood and tissue stem cells to protect their children from disease and injury. We appreciate how privileged we are to live in a country where it is possible to access next-generation healthcare and to survive leukaemia, sickle cell disease, neuroblastoma and other life-threatening conditions. We want to make stem cell therapies accessible to every family, but first, we need to address the basics.

    12 midwife facts: how midwifery benefits society

    Here are some of the findings of the WHO in 2014

    1. 83% of all maternal deaths, stillbirths and newborn deaths could be averted with the full package of midwifery care (including family planning);1
    2. 62% of effective practices within the scope of midwifery show the importance of optimising the normal processes of childbirth and early life, and empowering women to care for themselves and their families;2
    3. 56 maternal and neonatal outcomes were found to be improved through midwifery practice and philosophy of care;2
    4. 87% of service need can be delivered by midwives when educated to international standards;3
    5. 82% reduction in maternal mortality possible with universal midwifery coverage;1
    6. Midwifery is associated with more efficient use of resources and improved outcomes when provided by midwives who are educated, trained, licenced and regulated in international standards2. Midwifery is a ‘best buy’ investment;3
    7. Midwifery is associated with reduced maternal and neonatal morbidity, reduced interventions in labour, improved psycho-social outcomes and increased birth spacing and contraceptive use;4
    8. Community-based midwives have been found to rank positively for economy, efficiency and effectiveness;4
    9. Midwifery should be considered a core part of universal health coverage. Quality midwifery care is central to achieving national and global priorities and securing the rights of women and newborn infants;4
    10. Quality relates to the right for women and newborns to the highest standard of health and is synonymous with women-centred care. Providing quality care is most efficient through midwifery care for all childbearing women;5
    11. There were no adverse outcomes associated with midwife-led care but significant benefits, thus it is recommended that all women should be offered midwife-led continuity models of care;5
    12. Midwives have the potential to provide excellent quality of care but socio-cultural, economic and professional barriers must be overcome to allow them to practice to their full potential.7

    Who is behind Year of the Nurse and the Midwife 2020?

    The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife 2020 is organised by WHO and partners including the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), International Council of Nurses (ICN), Nursing Now and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

    The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife 2020 is a year-long effort to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives, highlight the challenging conditions they often face, and advocate for increased investments in the nursing and midwifery workforce.

    Why is the First Year of the Nurse and the Midwife happening in 2020?

    “In 2020, the spotlight is on us: nurses and midwives are being celebrated not just in England but across the globe. This is the chance to highlight our vast and varied skills and the work we do, and to ensure our professional voice is heard and represented at the heart of all health and care decisions and policy.”

    Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England

    2020 is Florence Nightingale’s bicentennial year, designated by the World Health Organisation as the first-ever global Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Nurses and midwives make up the largest numbers of the NHS workforce. They are highly skilled, multi-faceted professionals from a host of backgrounds that represent our diverse communities. 2020 is our time to reflect on these skills, the commitment and expert clinical care they bring, and the impact they make on the lives of so many. This year is also an opportunity to say thank you to the professions; to showcase their diverse talents and expertise, and to promote nursing and midwifery as careers with a great deal to offer.


    1 Homer, CS, Friberg, IK, Dias, MA et al. “The projected effect of scaling up midwifery”. Lancet. 2014;384: 1146–1157

    2 Renfrew, MJ, McFadden, A, Bastos, MH et al. “Midwifery and quality care: findings from a new evidence-informed framework for maternal and newborn care”. Lancet. 2014; 384: 1129–1145

    3 UNFPA ICM, WHO: “The state of the world’s midwifery 2014: A universal pathway. A women’s right to health”. 2014, New York: United Nations Population Fund

    4 Sandall J, Soltani H, Gates S, Shennan A, Devane D. “Midwife-led continuity models versus other models of care for childbearing women”. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 4

    5 Ten Hoope-Bender P, de Bernis L, Campbell J et al (2014). “Improvement of maternal and newborn health through midwifery”. Lancet. 2014;384: 1226-35

    6 Tracy SK, Hartz DL, Tracy MB, Allen J, Forti M, Hall B, White J, Lainchbury A, Stapleton H, Beckmann M, Bisits A, Homer C, Foureur M, Welsh A, Kildea S: “Caseload midwifery care versus standard maternity care for women of any risk: M@NGO, a randomized controlled trial”. Lancet 2013,382:1723–1732.

    7 Filby A, McConville F, Portela A (2016) “What Prevents Quality Midwifery Care? A Systematic Mapping of Barriers in Low and Middle Income Countries from the Provider Perspective”. PLoS ONE.11(5)

    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.

  8. Yoga for Pregnancy and Birth

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    Pregnancy Yoga can be a great way to relax, exercise safely and prepare for birth. Because this form of movement works with breath, muscle control and inner and outer strength it is very popular amongst pregnant women. But to make the most of pregnancy yoga, it must be safe and tailored to your needs.

    “Yoga’s a great well to keep everything supple, keep in great shape and just to keep everything ticking over.” (Jessica Ennis-Hill, Olympic Gold Medalist)[5]

    Yoga offers a workout for the body and the mind, making it a great form of exercise for mums-to-be. Pregnancy is the perfect time to get in touch with your body, and there’s no better way to do this that with a class that allows time for relaxation and reflection, as well as some serious stretching and strengthening, preparing both the mind and the body for birth and beyond.

    Yoga in Pregnancy: Medical Advice

    Yoga is a recommended form of antenatal exercise according to the NHS[1], National Childbirth Trust (NCT)[2] and the Royal College of Midwives, who offer Yoga training for maternity professionals.[3] Pregnant women are now advised to do 150 minutes of ‘moderate physical activity’ each week in new “Physical Activity” guidelines from the UK’s Chief Medical Officers.

    Two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week doesn’t sound much, but midwives and government medical officers are in agreement that the benefits are enormous. Physical activity during pregnancy helps to control weight gain, reduces the problems associated with high blood pressure and helps to prevent diabetes of pregnancy. Exercising also improves fitness, sleep quality and mood, helping women to prepare physically and mentally for birth and beyond.[4]

    The Benefits of Yoga

    Yoga is a series of postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama) that focus on the balance between the body and mind. Practised regularly, Yoga improves physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and has particular benefits for mums-to-be:

    • Improved circulation, muscle tone and flexibility

    During pregnancy, many women experience circulatory problems and struggle with their increased weight and size. Yoga helps to maintain and develop physical strength in preparation for birth and caring for a baby. A specialist antenatal yoga class with focus on exercises that empower women for birth and beyond such as pelvic floor sequences.

    • Enhanced mental agility, achieved through relaxation, breathing and meditation Exercises that focus on deep breathing and relaxation prepare the mind for birth and help many women to learn to breath through their contractions, reducing pain and need of medical intervention
    • Reduced muscle tension and feelings of calm Yoga postures and breathing exercises relieve tension and may assist women in welcoming and managing the challenges of birth and childcare.

    It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or an experienced yogi! All mums-to-be can benefit from Yoga.

    Recommended Exercises for Pregnancy

    There are some Yoga postures that are not recommended during pregnancy, such as those involving lying on your back for a prolonged period. Always let your Yoga Teacher know that you are pregnant, and if you are in any doubt, speak to your doctor or midwife.

    There are many books and instructional videos that focus on Pregnancy Yoga, many of which have sections for each trimester and Postnatal Yoga. also offer free instructional videos for mums-to-be.[6] 

    Relax a little more with Biovault Family

    Storing your baby’s cord blood and tissue offers peace of mind. Stem cell preservation gives you a life-line should a member of your family suffer injury or disease. Find out more here.

    Pregnancy Massage

    Every system of the body is affected by pregnacy. The process puts pressure on joints, ligaments and organs, and can cause discomfort and pain. Massage is a relaxing treatment that helps to alleviate side effects such as backaches and swelling, helping you to enjoy the special experience of pregnancy and find peace with your body.

    Massage offers women emotional and physiological support during a time of great bodily change and can help prepare the body for birth. Because massage can lower stress levels, a professional massage is believed to benefit the unborn baby as well as the mother.

    Pregnancy Massage should be slow, gentle and safe. A comprehensive consultation should take place before proceeding with massage and a good therapist will only offer massage if it is safe.

    You can find out more about Pregnancy Massage in this article by Massage and Yoga specialsist, Lubna Sheikh.



    2 – Pilates and yoga in pregnancy







    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. Cord blood funding for blood cancer patients

    Comments Off on Cord blood funding for blood cancer patients
    Biovault Family is partnering with blood cancer research charity, Leukaemia & Myeloma Research UK (LMRUK) who have launched a bespoke part-funded service to support families who wish to store their child’s cord blood stem cells for health reasons.

    To coincide with World Cord Blood Day (15th November), Leukaemia & Myeloma Research UK, a UK Charity Week official partner, has launched the new service which enables qualifying families to receive funding towards privately storing their baby’s umbilical cord blood stem cells for future use; in particular, improving the prospects of treatment for blood cancer or a genetic disorder, as part of the charity’s mission to protect the next generation from blood cancer.

    The stem cells can be retrieved at any time and used for the child or another blood relative.

    The part-funded service will cover a percentage of the overall cost to store the stem cells in the charity’s Model Cell Biobank storage facility in Plymouth, Devon, depending on the family’s eligibility, which looks at household income and whether there is a history of cancer in the immediate family.

    Cord blood stem cells are currently being used to treat and cure more than 80 life-threatening illnesses, including many cancers, immune deficiencies and genetic disorders.

    Dr Joanna Tilley, Interim Operations Director for LMRUK said:

    “Storing umbilical cord stem cells is not widely spoken about, but the benefits of using stem cells to fight blood cancer and other diseases and conditions are remarkable.

    “Our part-funded service aims to give families who cannot afford to store their baby’s cord blood stem cells the opportunity to do this, particularly if there is a family member in need of treatment or a strong history of blood cancer in the family.

    “There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the process of extracting the cord blood stem cells, however, the procedure causes no harm or risk to the baby or the mother, it doesn’t interfere with the birthing process and only occurs after your child is born. We want to help educate expectant families on the options available to them when it comes to storing their child’s cord blood.”

    Stem cell transplants are frequently being used to treat people affected by blood cancer instead of relying on bone marrow transplants.

    LMRUK was founded in 2015 with the aim to eradicate blood cancer once and for all. Since then, the charity has established the Model Cell Biobank, an umbilical cord blood banking service which aims to help reduce the increasing number of people affected by blood cancer every year.

    LMRUK has partnered with Biovault to collect, process and store cord blood stem cells. Biovault has a strong reputation for standards it applies to the storage and processing of stem cells derived from the umbilical cord and peripheral blood, bone marrow, now extending to many types of tissues for human application or transplant.

    For more information please click here or call the Model Cell Biobank team on 0800 368 9540.

    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.