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Tag Archive: Knowledge and Understanding

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. Can stem cells be used to treat autism?

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    April is Autism Awareness Month. So can autism be treated with stem cells? Let’s take a look at the research. 

    What is autism?

    Autism isn’t an illness. People with the condition can live a full and enjoyable life and the experience is different for everyone. Autistic people often act in a different way to others. It might be a bit more challenging for them to communicate and interact, and to understand the way other people think and feel. 

    Loud noises and bright lights can make autistic people feel stressed, and everyday unfamiliar situations and social events can make them uncomfortable. It can take a while longer to understand information. Some autistic people find comfort in repetitive behaviour. It often occurs along with conditions like ADHD, anxiety, depression, and epilepsy. 

    Basically, autism is different for everyone. 

    What causes autism? It’s one of those medical mysteries. Nobody knows, so far, why it happens, although there’s some evidence it can run in families. It is absolutely not caused by vaccines, bad parenting, or a bad diet, and it doesn’t affect a person’s intelligence. 

    How can stem cell therapy be used to treat autism?

    Are stem cells used to treat autism?

    As revealed by the USA’s National Library of Medicine website in 2018, in an article talking about ASDs or Autism Spectrum Disorders. “Due to neurobiologic changes underlying ASD development, cell-based therapies have been proposed and applied to ASDs. Indeed, stem cells show specific immunologic properties, which make them promising candidates in ASD treatment.”

    On the face of it, this looks like good news. But as the report concludes, just five clinical trials had taken place at the time of writing, each formulated differently so it’s not possible to draw firm conclusions.  This ‘will require further examinations’, with ‘more complete and exhaustive investigations and large trials’ needed in order to ‘claim definitive results’

    Autism treatment using stem cell therapy is also a subject of discussion for Autism Parenting magazine. Their reporter mentions a study by Price (2020). They reveal that because some studies blame immune dysfunction as the cause and effect of autism spectrum disorder, the stem cell therapy approach for treating autism might have some potential. But again, so far it remains a hypothesis, not scientific fact. 

    How effective is stem cell therapy for autism?

    While stem cell therapy is already recognised as a possible approach to supporting those with autism, the simple answer is we don’t know yet, because we know so little about why people develop autism in the first place. It could be down to genetic immune dysfunction, it could be laid at the feet of inflammatory stimuli, it might be something else altogether. While the signs for umbilical cord blood and autism are looking hopeful, we need to wait for proof. 

    We’re hopeful, since stem cells have the unique ability to influence the human metabolism and immune systems, as well as restoring damaged cells and tissues, including the organs and entire systems. Watch this space for new research. We’ll report on any new results as soon as they’re announced. 

    Sources

  4. Why key influencers are banking their baby’s cord blood

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    Cord blood banking takes off in celebrity circles – why celebs are banking their babies’ cord blood.

    Stem cells are extraordinary. Those left in your baby’s cord blood after the birth is especially powerful, able to regenerate every kind of damaged blood cell. So far cord blood stem cells are being used to treat more than 80 diseases including cancers like leukaemia and lymphoma, inherited immune system and immune-cell disorders, sickle cell disease and anaemia, and Gaucher disease. But they can also help treat other immune, blood and neurological disorders.

    No wonder so many parents are storing their children’s cord blood. And it’s no surprise a growing group of ethical, forward-thinking celebrity movers and shakers is getting involved, choosing a company called Biovault Family to bank their baby’s umbilical cord blood.  

    The experts at Biovault Family have been working with key celebrity influencers who have banked their own baby’s cord blood, and who want to help spread the word. Take Portia Jett, who is married to the British television and radio presenter and actor Ore Oduba. In October the couple had their second baby Genie, brother to Roman. As Portia says, “For us, as a family, it was the right decision. If the unthinkable were ever to happen and we could save or help our children and other family members with stem cells, why wouldn’t we? 

    Because these cells can treat over 80 diseases it was a no brainer for us. We just hope more families look into this whilst pregnant. Biovault is a brilliant company, run with compassion and heart at the forefront of everything they do. They just want to help expectant parents in any way they can.”

    Last year television presenter, model, and fashion journalist Louise Roe and her husband Mackenzie Hunkin choose to bank their baby’s Inès’ cord blood with Biovault Family. Like all parents, the couple was determined to do everything in their power to keep their new baby safe. Louise says, “Stem cells have the ability to be life-changing and life-saving, with more and more discoveries being made each year, this was a very important thing for us to do as a family.

    We decided to bank our newborn daughter’s stem cells using Biovault, after having a long chat with them over the phone. They’re the only place in the UK that has their own storage facility and an insurance policy that means if anything happens to the company, our baby’s cells will still be looked after for 50 years.” 

    The diseases this can help treat and cure are very wide-spanning, and the list is growing. I do feel a huge sense of security knowing we have invested in our baby’s health and future.

    Louise Roe

    Ricky Martin, the winner of The Apprentice in 2012, is another Biovault Family convert along with his wife Gemma. They used Biovault Family for the second time in 2020 after the birth of their baby daughter. As Ricky commented, “My family and I decided to bank our newborn daughter’s stem cells using Biovault. All it took was a detailed phone call and we were convinced. As the only place in the UK offering Escrow protection, our baby’s cells will be kept safe for 50 years whatever happens to the company. It felt like the perfect solution and it’s great to know the cells we’ve saved might one day save a family member’s life”. 

    Collecting umbilical cord stem cells offers parents a revolutionary way to protect their child’s well-being in the future. So how about the money side of things? Is there a celebrity price tag? While the cost can put some people off, it isn’t expensive to collect and store cord blood stem cells when you consider the cells are held safe for as long as 50 years.

    To help out, Biovault Family offers a 0% payment plan from 3 months to 22 months, bringing the potential of stem cell therapy to reality for ordinary families across the UK. You can store for as little as £695.

    Get in touch to find out more about Cord Blood Banking – Download our brochure or call 01752 753723 to talk to our lovely team to find out more.

  5. 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.

  6. Biovault Family heads to The Baby Show – ExCeL London on 4th – 6th March 2022

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    We are delighted to be attending The Baby Show, the UK’s leading pregnancy and parenting event which returns to ExCeL London for the first time in two years on March 4 – 6.

    The show provides a one-stop shop for new and expectant parents to try and buy products, watch live demonstrations, benefit from brilliant discounts and meet the team from Biovault Family.

    We’ll be alongside over 200 exhibitors. There are some big names attending including Joie, Cybex, Silvercross, Cosatto, Snüz, Chicco, Doona, Ergobaby, MAM, Tommee Tippee, Maxi-Cosi, Childs Farm and BabyBjörn alongside boutique, not-on-the-high-street brands demonstrating their innovations, making it the ultimate shopping destination for families embarking on this exciting adventure into parenthood.

    Join us on stand A52 and meet the team from Biovault Family – Jo Kingston, Anne-Marie Meyers, Nikki Driver and Jodie Turner – whose wealth of experience in cord blood and tissue banking will ensure they can answer all your questions about what it is, how it works, and why it is important for you to protect the future health of your family.

    Becoming a parent can be hugely exciting and daunting at the same time and with no parent handbook, it’s sometimes hard to navigate. The Live Talks Stage will host some of the UK’s leading baby and parenting experts and guest speakers including Midwife Marley, Rachel FitzD, The Parent & Baby Coach Heidi Skudder, Charlotte Stirling-Reed, Daisy First Aid, Dr. Will Dooley, Carmelle Gentle, Sarah Patel, Dr. Robert Titzer, Adam Shaw, Dr. Shruti Nathwani and others ready to offer their free expert advice, information and support.

    Topics covered include birth, sleep, weaning, breastfeeding, the fourth trimester, newborn illnesses, mental health, first aid and infant learning. The new Official Podcast Partner, Two New Mums’ Amy Voce and Jennie Longdon will also be chatting live on stage with a celebrity mum about the highs and lows of motherhood.

    Jo Kingston said: “We are thrilled to be back at ExCeL London this Spring. The Baby Show is the perfect place for mums and dads to find everything they need for their new arrival as well as get much-needed support, information and inspiration from leading baby and parenting experts. We can’t wait to meet expectant mums and tell them all about Biovault Family and the services we offer.”

    Save 33% on tickets

    Visit The Baby Show’s website to save 33% on your entry tickets to their next show in the ExCel, London.

    Terms and conditions apply.

    Competition – WIN free tickets to The Baby Show

    All you need to do to enter is visit their website to enjoy your free tickets but be quick – there’s only a certain number up for grabs!

  7. Biovault Family is recognised as a partner of choice by the AABB

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    We are delighted to announce that Biovault Family has been awarded the Cellular Therapy Services (CSM) Qualification which is based on our current accreditation status with the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies (AABB).

    This new qualification was announced in January 2022 and recognises Biovault Family’s expertise, capability and practices related to cellular therapy services such as umbilical cord blood and tissue banking.

    It means that our company meets or exceeds AABB’s evidence-based Cellular Therapy Standards for the collection, storage and/or processing of cellular starting materials, including umbilical cord blood and tissue. 

    This is excellent news for Biovault Family and further verification that we remain committed to quality and excellence in offering personalised cord blood and tissue processing and storage services to parents who wish to bank their babies’ umbilical cord stem cells.

    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. Can stem cell therapy be used in stroke treatment?

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    Did you know stem cell therapy may be able to help stroke victims? While stem cells are still being used in clinical trials, there is early evidence that stem cell therapy enhances recovery from a stroke. Here’s some expert insight into stroke treatment, including an exploration of how mesenchymal cells taken from the umbilical cord might sit at the heart of an innovative new stem cells therapy for a stroke. 

    What is a stroke?

    When your brain is deprived of oxygen because of an interrupted blood flow, it can lead to a stroke. Strokes affect 100,000 of us every year in the UK, and at any one time the nation is home to 1.3 million stroke survivors. 

    • Ischemic strokes are the most common, accounting for around 87% of all strokes and involving small obstructions in blood vessels, often bits of plaque or blood clots. The interrupted blood flow makes brain cells start to die, which can mean long term brain injuries and neurological problems 
    • Haemorrhagic strokes, also called cerebral haemorrhages and intracranial haemorrhages, are much rarer. They happen when a blood vessel inside the skull breaks, bleeding into and around the brain. The main cause is high blood pressure, which fundamentally weakens the brain’s arteries 

    A stroke can happen at any age. If a stroke victim gets quick treatment there’s a much better outlook than if treatment is delayed. Until recently there was very little that could be done to save a stroke victim from the brain damage suffered through delayed treatment. Luckily recent stem cell therapy studies and clinical trials have revealed impressive results.

    What are the signs of a stroke?

    The signs and symptoms of a stroke, and its extent, vary depending on your state of health and lifestyle. The word ‘FAST’ is central to recognising stroke symptoms: 

    • Face – the face might drop on one side, leaving you unable to smile. Your mouth or eye can also droop
    • Arms – you may not be able to lift both arms and keep them up because one arm is weak or has gone numb 
    • Speech – your speech may be slurred or difficult to understand. You might lose your speech completely, and you may struggle to make people understand what you’re saying
    • Time – the three points above mean you need to dial 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance 

    You might also suffer paralysis of one side of your body, have a sudden loss of vision or blurred eyesight, feel dizzy or confused, have issues with your balance and co-ordination, problems swallowing, or an extremely painful blinding headache. You might even lose consciousness. 

    What causes a stroke?

    Strokes happen when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Clots usually form in places where your arteries are narrowed or blocked by fatty deposits called plaques, a process called atherosclerosis. 

    While arteries tend to narrow as we age, hypertension, smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes and excessive alcohol can speed the process up. It’s obviously wise to avoid the things that lead to high blood pressure in the first place, mainly obesity, excessive alcohol, smoking, stress, and a lack of exercise.

    How does stem cell therapy work in the treatment of strokes?

    Stem cell therapy is all about replacing damaged cells. Mesenchymal cells from umbilical cord blood can be deployed via a needle or IV to specific sites, and it looks as though these special stem cells can help stroke patients thanks to their excellent anti-inflammatory and immuno-regulatory capabilities.  

    Stem cell therapy is a safe stroke treatment, and it might support recovery when given early enough. In the words of Dr Leonid Groysman, associate professor of neurology at UCI School of Medicine,“The idea is that the implanted stem cells improve our own natural capacity to regrow brain cells.” 

    The process involves one simple surgical procedure, where the fluid is injected into the affected area of the brain. 

    Can stem cells help stroke victims?

    Stem cells have naturally regenerative and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s their job to go in search of damaged tissues and repair them.  

    One study, by Stanford University School of Medicine in the USA, involved using stem cells in clinical trials to explore healing stroke victims of different ages, anywhere from 6 months to 3 years after their stroke. The stem cell therapy, using donor bone marrow, was introduced directly into the brain.  Within months everyone in the study had showed signs of improved motor function. 

    Another study, this time by Michael Levy and colleagues and published by the University of California,  revealed that intravenous injections of allogeneic mesenchymal cells are a safe and effective treatment in long term post-stroke recovery.   

    Can stem cell therapy cure the brain?

    Taking the above into account, and looking at various other studies into the impact of stem cells from umbilical cord blood and tissue, it looks as though stem cell therapy can indeed help cure the brain after a stroke. 

    How many stem cell clinical trials are there?

    Carry out a simple Google search on ‘how many stem cell clinical trials are there’ and you get a long list of studies by an equally long list of trusted scientific sources. We keep tabs on them all, and we roll the new insight, expertise and knowledge they provide into everything we do. 

    Store your umbilical cord blood stem cells for future stroke treatment 

    Collect and store precious cord blood and tissue when giving birth and you potentially give your child, yourself, your partner and close family the gift of potential future treatments for all sorts of awful diseases and illnesses. The research into stem cell therapy continues right around the world, and the results are often extraordinary. If you’re expecting a child, let’s talk about saving your cord blood. 

    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

    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. Why banking your baby’s precious cord blood matters

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    World Cord Blood Day was celebrated around the world on November 15, and every year, July is designated World Cord Blood month, but still very few people in the UK know about umbilical cord blood banking

    Kate Sneddon, CEO of Plymouth-based Biovault Family, the only private laboratory in the UK that works for the NHS to process and store cord blood and tissue explains what it is and why.

    Very few people know that when parents give birth, they have the option to collect the cord blood left in the placenta, and the new born baby’s cord.  These tissues are rich in potentially life saving stem cells which have the ability to treat over 80 conditions,  and have the advantage over other sources of cells that they have not been damaged by the environment or ageing process, and do not require to be so closely matched to the patient.  

    We are also very excited about this service being expanded to treat autoimmune conditions, the most notable being multiple sclerosis (MS).

    At birth parents have the option to discard these tissues and cells as medical waste, donate to a public bank or privately bank for their families use should they become ill in later life.

    Since our creation in 2002, Plymouth-based Biovault has been at the forefront of the rapidly developing field of human cell and tissue processing and cryogenic storage.  Demand for services has grown, both here in the UK and Internationally, as doctors and scientists find more innovative and life-changing applications for human cells and tissue.  

    Biovault is the South-West Peninsula Transplantation Service’s tissue establishment, and we work in partnership with local NHS hospitals as they perform stem cell transplants for patients.

    Biovault provides the processing facilities and stores the patients’ or matched donors stem cells at cryogenic temperatures, -196°C, until they are ready to receive the cells. 

    Whilst many patients treated by the transplantation service wouldn’t have had the chance to store their stem cells at birth a relatively new area of medicine is developing using stem cells from the umbilical cord.  An increasing number of families are choosing to bank for their own use, known as private banking and Biovault Family offers this service in the UK.  

    Despite being available for nearly 20 years in the UK, the number of parents choosing this option is relatively low when compared to other countries across the world. This is primarily down to awareness, simply parents do not know they have the option as it is not routinely discussed during pregnancy.  This coupled with the fact that donation to public banks is through a limited number of hospitals only, means these precious cells often end up in the incinerator.  

    There has also been considerable challenge with collection of the cord.  The Royal College of Midwives does not currently support private banking unless there is a medically indicated reason (although they are reviewing their position).  As a result, hospitals and midwifery teams have not put in place the systems and resources to facilitate the collection, resulting in the use of external personnel to attend the birth to make the collection. The recent move to delayed cord clamping as standard within the NHS can mean medical professionals and parents think collection of the cord and blood is not possible, and again it is dismissed without proper consideration.  

    However, we see that making the decision to store our children’s umbilical stem cells is an act of bravery.  It means admitting the possibility of someone we love becoming seriously ill and deciding to take control of fear by putting in place this incredible biological protection.  

    At Biovault we are not content with simply offering the existing service, we understand that parents rightly want to give their child the best start in life by delaying cord clamping, but realise they also want to protect them for the future.  Because of this we embarked upon a research programme, in partnership with University College London to look at how we can “replicate” stem cells using cords donated specifically for research. With the hope of providing a process to expand their number using pioneering technology.  This may allow not only the child to have protection, but other members of the family too.  

    The field of stem cells, cellular therapies and regenerative medicine has developed rapidly over the last 30 years, but we are now on the cusp of new possibilities for the use of these precious cells.  There are 80 standard approved therapies using cord blood stem cells including Leukaemia, Lymphoma, Anaemias (including Fanconi Anaemia, Sickle cell disease and Beta Thalassaemia), inherited disorders of the immune system, inherited metabolic disorders and solid tumours such as Neuroblastoma and Retinoblastoma.  Clinical trials are ongoing looking at the use of the cells for Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Stroke and Parkinson’s disease, Autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease and Multiple sclerosis, Cardiovascular disease, Diabetes and many more.

    Working in the medical field requires that we work to the highest quality standards.  However, we go above and beyond the mandatory UK Human Tissue Authority (HTA) licence and have sought out two of the most exacting international accreditation: Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy Joint Accreditation Committee for ISCT and EBMT (FACT-JACIE) and the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB).  

    We are truly proud to hold these accreditations which ensure we maintain our unique place as the leading private cell and tissue banking facility in the UK, and Biovault is the only private entity to have gained the FACT-JACIE accreditation. 

    In addition to quality we are very proud of our ethics, as scientists and parents we care for every person and every cell in our care and put the wellbeing of people before profit.  

    Interested? Download our brochure today – it’s got all you need to know about cord blood banking.

    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.