We’re familiar with the idea of cord blood banking and have read countless stories of the lives saved and enhanced by cord blood stem cell transplants. But why do Biovault Family offer umbilical cord tissue banking? Stem cells from cord tissue are not yet used therapeutically, so why are more and more families choosing to store umbilical cord blood and tissue?
What’s special about umbilical cord tissue?
The umbilical cord usually contains two arteries and one vein, protected by a thick gelatinous substance called Wharton’s Jelly. Wharton’s Jelly is packed with Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) and like the Haematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs) in cord blood, MSCs can renew and differentiate to create new specialist cell types.
What’s even more exciting is that whereas HSCs develop into blood cells and can treat blood and immunological diseases, MSCs differentiate into tissues, such as bone, nerve, tendon and muscle. Doctors hope that in the future MSCs will be used to regenerate damaged and diseased tissue, treating diseases and conditions that we currently think of as life-limiting or even fatal.
It is estimated that more than 450 clinical trials are now evaluating MSCs as part of a therapeutic intervention. (Matthew L. Skiles, PhD, Scientific and Medical Affairs, Cbr Systems, Inc)
Which conditions could be treated?
With so many clinical trials underway, the potential for umbilical cord blood and tissue to help and to heal is enormous. Stem Cell Scientists are currently investigating treatments for:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Bone Fractures
- Brain Injury
- Cerebral Palsy
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Hearing Loss
- Heart Attack
- Liver Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Spinal Cord Injury
What about bone marrow and other sources of stem cells?
MSCs are usually collected from bone marrow or adipose (fat) tissue for medical use, though MSCs are found in many body tissues. The problem is that MSCs are less numerous and function less well when they are collected from adults. Scientists have proven that MSCs from newborn umbilical and placental tissue are more plentiful and more resistant to viruses and toxins and believe that MSCs collected at the time of birth may be “advantageous for future clinical applications.” (1)
How is cord tissue collected?
Umbilical cord tissue collection couldn’t be easier. After the baby is born and the cord is clamped, a trained doctor, midwife or phlebotomist collects the cord blood and/or tissue sample and stores them in a specially designed container. The collection kit is them delivered by courier to our laboratory where it is carefully labelled for processing and storage by our stem cell scientists.
If you have any questions about cord blood and tissue storage and treatment please get in touch with our friendly team here.
- Quantitative analysis of composite umbilical cord tissue health using a standardized explant approach and an assay of metabolic activity. Matthew L. Skiles, Katherine S. Brown, William Tatz, Kristen Swingle, Heather L. Brown. February 08, 2018. http://www.celltherapyjournal.org/article/S1465-3249(18)30006-9/fulltext
- Batsali, A.K. and Kastrinaki, M.C. Mesenchymal stem cells derived from Wharton’s Jelly of the umbilical cord: biological properties and emerging clinical applications. Curr Stem Cell Res Ther. 2013; 8: 144–155
- Verter, F. and Couto, P.S. Survey of how cord blood banks process cord tissue. ICBS ABSTRACTS.Transfusion. 2016; 56: 1A–12ADOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/trf.13686
MSC image source: http://icm.web.ym.edu.tw/files/16-1235-12356.php
BSc (Hons) Microbiology
Biovault Family CEO, Kate Sneddon, joined Biovault in July 2009 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2016. As health industry professional her experience includes working as a microbiologist and leader at GSK for over 10 years. Her expertise in cord blood banking has been recognised in her awards, features in Parliamentary Review and Parents Guide to Cord Blood, as well as contributions to research with UCL and others.