Tag Archive: umbilical cord blood

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

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

    Why do we have a World Blood Cancer day?

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What makes cord blood so special?

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

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

    Cord blood stem cells are amazing.

    They have a natural ability to:

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

    Make copies of themselves

    Replace damaged cells with healthy ones.

    What Is Cord Blood Used For Today?

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


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

    Blood Disorders

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

    Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes

    Fanconi anemia | Diamond-Blackfan anemia | Juvenile dermatomyositis  

    Metabolic Disorders

    Hurler syndrome | Tay-Sachs Disease | Krabbe disease 

    Immune Disorders

    Severe combined immunodeficiency | DiGeorge syndrome | Reticular dysplasia

    What is a cord blood transplant?

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

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

    Who can potentially use my newborn’s cord blood?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood

    Cord blood donation, NHS Cord Blood Bank

    Cord blood banking – what you need to know, FDA

    What is a cord blood transplant? Anthony Nolan

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

    Cord blood stem cell transplantation, The Leukaemia and Lymphoma Society

  2. Biovault prides itself on being an ethical company

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    But, what does this mean and how do we apply our ethics to our day-to-day practices?

    Biovault Family prides itself as an ethical company offering umbilical stem cell banking to parents in the UK, Europe and Middle East, but in relation to this service what does “ethical” mean?  

    It fundamentally comes down to looking at the service offered in its entirety and ensuring that at each stage, information given, level of care and transparency of approach is considered with the parents, child and ultimately clinicians who may use the cells in mind.  

    Biovault is in the unique position of working directly as part of the NHS South West Peninsula Transplant programme. This interaction on a daily basis with healthcare professionals (consultants, nurses, biomedical scientists) that are treating patients with complex cancers and conditions where stem cell transplant may be the last viable treatment option allows us to fully understand the requirements, standards and challenges these healthcare professionals face.

    Biovault Family seeks to educate parents at each stage in the process, ensuring that information given is accurate, complete and honest.  

    Examples of this include, 

    • If the mother has a condition, that means she is not suitable as a donor, or the scope of use may be limited we will advise of this in advance of providing the service.  
    • We apply criteria to cell counts and cell quality of the cord blood and advise customers where we think storage may not be appropriate.  
    • We provide clear information on approved treatments and those in clinical trial stage to ensure parents understand the limitations with the cells stored based on current information.

    What are the ethical practices that Biovault has in place?

    Biovault educates parents on cord stem cell banking and the options available to them. We work with customers to ensure their birth plan is supported and the cord stem cells can be collected.  Our sales team do not apply pressure to parents during the sales process.

    Biovault’s agreement with the parents is clear and unambiguous with no hidden costs such as annual storage charges, unless a specific annual storage payment package is chosen.  Where affordability is a challenge Biovault offers options, packages and support to parents.

    Where a prepaid storage package is chosen Biovault transfers the ongoing storage costs for the period chosen to an Escrow company who hold that money separately to Biovault to ensure the funds to cover the remaining storage are in place and governed separately from Biovault.

    Should the cells be required for a treatment a full data package is supplied to the clinician in advance allowing them to make informed choices based on the quality and quantity of cells available.

    How does this differentiate Biovault Family from other cord blood banking companies?

    Many banks use high pressure sales tactics to entice parents to store their child’s cells with them.  They spend little time educating parents and seek purely to make the sale and “fill in the gaps” later.  Our Client advisors are more than happy to spend time with customers to ensure expectations are met and share experience.  During the CV-19 pandemic they have been a source of advice to many customers on what to expect at hospital with access restrictions.

    The long-term storage fees can be hidden by other companies. We speak to many parents who are unaware of the annual storage costs for which they will be liable, from other banks packages.

    We care about the families we support and ensure they have all the information they require, and can rely on us if times get tough and the cells are required.  We will always seek to give accurate and comprehensive results.

    We are proud of our organisation. If you want to find out more, get in touch with the team who will be on hand to help.

  3. What can cord blood be used for?

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    Imagine this. Your toddler has been diagnosed with leukaemia. They need a bone marrow transplant, but there isn’t a matching adult donor. They may die. Thankfully life-saving umbilical cord blood from stem cells, donated by an anonymous mum and her newborn baby, save your little one’s life. 

    It’s a true story. 

    If you’ve ever asked the question what is cord blood used for, should we keep cord blood, or who needs cord blood, this article reveals everything you need to know. As it turns out, stem cells are  extraordinary. They’re used in a wide variety of healthcare settings to heal people of every age and improve people’s quality of life, and one of the best sources of these powerful cells is the umbilical cord.  

    Is cord blood banking worth it?

    Should we keep cord blood? In our experience the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Cord blood banking is always worth it, an investment in the future health and wellbeing of your child, their siblings, yourself and your partner.  

    Cord blood is simply blood from your baby. It stays in the umbilical cord and placenta after you give birth, and it’s easy to collect, painless and harmless for you and your baby. Umbilical cord blood banks like ours store it, cryogenically frozen, until someone who’s a genetic match needs a transplant.

    Blood from umbilical cords contains ‘progenitor’ stem cells. They’re used for life-saving transplants in people with leukaemia, serious blood disorders and much more. Sadly, much of the time, umbilical cord blood is discarded at birth. But you can choose to collect and freeze yours for the future, and more of us are doing exactly that every year. 

    How is cord blood used for your baby?

    So what is cord blood used for? It’s used in many proven treatments and is also very useful in regenerative medicine. 

    Stem cells from cord blood can treat immune system disorders and genetic disorders, neurologic disorders, and some kinds of cancer, for example leukaemia and lymphoma. They’ve been used to treat various metabolic diseases and to treat sickle-cell anaemia. They’re helpful in treating diseases of the blood, heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. Scientists suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg.  

    Basically, stem cells from the cord blood of a genetically matching donor ‘regenerate’ the blood and immune system. That’s why, for a host of disorders, these cells are a potential gold mine for treatment and cure. The fluid is easy to collect. It contains ten times more stem cells than bone marrow. And cord blood stem cells are famously free from infectious diseases, around 50% less likely to be rejected by the patient’s immune system than stem cells taken from adults. 

    How is cord blood used in transplant medicine?

    Cord blood contains ‘hematopoietic’ stem cells, immature cells with the ability to develop into every type of blood cell, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. These hematopoietic cells are the same kind used for bone marrow transplants and, so far, are thought to be able to treat more than 80 types of disease. 

    Who needs cord blood? All of us! 

    Who needs cord blood? We all do. Research into the benefits of cord blood banking is ongoing, and the results are exciting. There are high hopes around more ways to use these clever cells in future, including research into stem cell treatment for Alzheimer’s, heart failure, even serious spinal cord damage. Will you choose to have a cord blood collection after giving birth?  

    Speak to our team about banking your baby’s cord blood – download our brochure or call our sales team on 01752 753723.


    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.


    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. Umbilical Cord Blood: How long can UCB stem cells be stored?

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    By Michael Bardetti-Nixon BSc. LIBMS, Biovault Technical Ltd., Technical Manager / Persons Designate

    If you are already considering storing your eagerly awaited baby’s cord blood, the next question is, how long for? Does it expire? Biovault offer a range of storage terms. Arrangements can always be made at the end of the term, but what’s the rational?

    A little background on umbilical cord blood

    While the technology has improved leaps and bounds, the idea isn’t new. The first UCB (Umbilical Cord Blood) transplant occurred back in 1988 in France, to treat a child with Fanconi Anaemia[1]. Since then, over 40,000 UCB transplants have taken place and over 5 million UCB units have been stored worldwide in both public and private banks[2].

    Cryogenic preservation is a long-term game and for a technology that had its first success only 35 years ago/ This means there is still has a lot of half answered questions. Unfortunately, one of these is ‘How long do they last?’ To help, we have gone through the scientific literature for you.

    The majority of UCB units transplanted are used within 5 years of being cryopreserved (frozen at a very low temperature, below -150⁰C). Most of the evidence we have examining longer storage terms look at data from the lab and experimental transplants.

    This first paper[3] looks at actual transplant data and ‘real world’ outcomes (time in hospital and recovery times, as opposed to number of cells). In this particular hospital, 86 transplants of UCB were performed between 1996 and 2011. Some patients received units that were stored for more than 5 years (up to 12). When they compared ‘old’ vs ‘new’ units, no significant difference was found between the time for the blood cells to return to normal, nor was there a difference between the duration of patients hospital stays or patient survival[3].

    The next paper[4] looks at UCB cells cryopreserved for 21-23.5 years. The laboratory component of this study looked at these 21-23.5yo cells being grown in a dish. This was inspected after a set time to look at size, shape and colour of the clusters of cells that grew (known as a CFU assay). These groups that form is typically given rise to by as little as a single cell that has the potential to divide and grow into multiple cell types. They managed to detect multiple different types of blood cell. This suggested that they had successfully grown from a haematopoietic stem cell that had survived being frozen for many years.

    Excitingly, they could then remove the cells from that induvial dish. By doing this, they could grow more new groups of cells on a separate plate. This suggests that the cells they had stored 20+ years ago have the potential to grow into more specialised cell types over and over again. A second test looked at experimental transplantation of portion of these units. This examined how well the cells grew and divided in a new host. Evidence of a successful transplant was found and could even be transplanted from one host to the next successfully. The cord blood units used for this experiment had been in storage for 18-21 years.

    This field of medicine is only beginning to evolve. With the first transplant a ‘directed donation’, in a discipline still in infancy less than 35 years ago, ‘long term’ cryopreservation is still regarded as 10 years. As you can see from the above, this definition will likely change and be extended as time goes on. We cannot guarantee that the cells in cryogenic storage will last longer than what we have data for, but current research indicates that once frozen, umbilical cord stem cells sit quite happily for prolonged periods of time, in a state closer to suspended animation.  

    Biovault has two offerings for storage term currently: 25 years, as backed by the evidence above; and 50 years, in the hope we can future-proof your investment in your infant’s health. If you’re interested, you can find out more. Just download our brochure or by call our awesome sales team on 01752 753723.


    1. Ballen KK, Gluckman E, Broxmeyer HE. Umbilical cord blood transplantation: the first 25 years and beyond. Blood. 2013;122(4):491-498. doi:10.1182/blood-2013-02-453175
    2. Kim GH, Kwak J, Kim SH, et al. High Integrity and Fidelity of Long-Term Cryopreserved Umbilical Cord Blood for Transplantation. J Clin Med. 2021;10(2):293. Published 2021 Jan 14. doi:10.3390/jcm10020293
    3. Parmar S, de Lima M, Worth L, Petropoulos D, Lee D, Cooper L, Kongtim P, Alousi A, Hosing C, Popat U, Kebriaei P, McNiece I, Shpall E, Rondon G, & Champlin R, (2014). Is there an expiration date for a cord blood unit in storage?. Bone marrow transplantation, 49(8), 1109–1112. https://doi.org/10.1038/bmt.2014.92
    4. Broxmeyer HE, Lee MR, Hangoc G, et al. Hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, generation of induced pluripotent stem cells, and isolation of endothelial progenitors from 21- to 23.5-year cryopreserved cord blood. Blood. 2011;117(18):4773-4777. doi:10.1182/blood-2011-01-330514
  5. How do we collect your baby’s stem cells at birth?

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    Are you thinking about banking your new born baby’s umbilical cord blood? Let’s take a look at how stem cells are harvested from cord blood. This is your umbilical cord blood storage guide. 

    How are stem cells collected at birth?

    Cord blood stem cells are collected at birth. While it only takes a few minutes and is a very simple thing to do, the benefits could last for a lifetime. Everything you need to collect your umbilical cord blood is included in our convenient Collection Kit. This includes all the instructions you’ll need to share with your birthing partner as well as the healthcare professional who will actually collect the samples. So, your first task is to order your kit so it’s ready and waiting when you give birth. 

    The cord blood collection process is so easy it lets you focus on the important thing – actually giving birth! Once your midwife is happy with the health of you and your new baby they’ll collect the relevant cord blood and cord tissue, something that can be done either before or after the placenta is delivered and the umbilical cord clamped and cut. You don’t need to do anything differently. You don’t have to clamp the cord any earlier than usual and your partner can still cut the cord if they want to. It’s just like an ordinary birth.  

    The cord blood is removed from the mother’s umbilical cord and the placenta soon after the baby is born. The person nominated to carry out the collection takes 3-5 ounces of blood from the cord and placenta, which contains about a teaspoon of stem cells. The collection process doesn’t cause any harm whatsoever to the mum or the baby. 

    Is it painful to have stem cells harvested from umbilical cord blood?

    In a word, no – you won’t feel a thing, nor will your beautiful new baby. 

    What happens to the umbilical cord blood once it has been harvested?

    All you do is follow the simple instructions in your collection kit. The phlebotomist will take the samples and make them ready for transport to our lab. Once they’ve arrived the samples are taken to a sterile environment and given a unique barcode before being carefully processed. We’ll test the samples for microbiological contamination and make sure the stem cell concentration is high enough. Then they’re stored in tamper-proof evidence bags in a vat of super-sold vapour phase liquid nitrogen, where they can safely remain for either 25 or 50 years – it’s your choice. We’ll send you a Storage Certificate to keep, for your records, and we’ll only take the cells out of storage if your child needs them for treatment. 

    Let’s explore collecting a baby’s stem cells  

    If you’d like to take the first step you can order your kit now, download a brochure, or schedule a friendly call with a member of our expert team.  


  6. What is autism and can cord blood be used to treat it?

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    Umbilical cord blood is rather magical. The stem cells it contains have all sorts of health benefits, widely used to help treat a huge variety of conditions, some very serious. As experts in cord blood banking, we decided to explore the science and tell you the truth behind cord blood treatment for autism.   

    About umbilical cord blood and autism – The science bit! 

    Precious umbilical cord blood can be easily collected when your baby is born, then stored for future use to treat the child or another close member of your family. Does cord blood treatment prevent autism or affect the condition in any other positive way?  

    It’s important because one in 68 children suffer from ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder. It’s more than four times more common in boys than girls and it can happen to every child, whatever their background. So far, nobody knows the cause or causes behind the condition. But some experts believe it could be down to the immune system which, in some cases, reveals an ‘elevated response’. If this proves to be the case, and if the immune response can be somehow calmed down, doing so should help protect a child from developing autism.

    The science behind cord blood cells 

    Cord blood stem cells are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. Research reveals the cells in cord blood can regulate inflammation, migrating to the site of the injury. The ‘Bystander Effect’ is also at work here, where umbilical cord blood cells secrete substances to support the body’s natural repair mechanisms in surrounding tissue.  

    Two key scientific studies

    In 2014 a study by Duke University Medicine explored using umbilical cord blood cells to treat autism, along with strokes, cerebral palsy and other similar brain disorders. The study, whose results were released in 2017, looked into the safety of giving the children an intravenous infusion of their own umbilical cord blood.

    In the phase I study, involving 25 children aged between 2 and 5, researchers saw more than 66% showing better speech, better social skills, and increased eye contact as reported by parents and assessed by experts. This left the study’s creators feeling ‘cautiously optimistic’. The results inspired full double blind placebo-controlled phase 2 research, with answers posted in 2019. Sadly the results were inconclusive, as later confirmed in 2020. 

    In another study, this time in 2017, Dr. Michael Chez, Director of Paediatric Neurology at Sutter Medical Centre in California, USA, designed an experiment to look into using umbilical cord blood to treat autism. The study involved thirty children with autism aged between two and seven, all of whom had their cord blood cells harvested and banked at birth. 

    Every child’s autism was carefully evaluated before the experiment began. Then the children were randomly given either cord blood or a saline placebo IV-infusion before being monitored carefully for 24 weeks. After that each child was given the opposite infusion and monitored for a further 24 weeks. Nobody, including the researchers themselves, knew which child had been given which infusion first. 

    The results revealed that while cord blood infusions appeared safe in children with autism, and some of the children were found to have improved in some ways, the improvements couldn’t be applied to all the children, and there was no overall trend of improvements. 

    It’s also important to know that 30 children isn’t a big enough number to make statistically valid conclusions, which means the results weren’t statistically significant. And that means more research is needed to prove or disprove the theory. 

    The future cord blood banking outlook for autism

    Scientists believe this is only the start of the autism story, and that cord blood stem cells might still prove to have a positive impact on helping children avoid developing autism. For now, the jury is out. Much bigger studies are essential to find any evidence, if indeed there is any evidence to find. 

    You can rely on us to provide you with the latest science, information from experts that you can trust rather than unreliable reports from the media. Would you like to store your baby’s cord blood for a healthier future? If so, we can help!

    Download our brochure, schedule a meeting with one of our lovely sales team or just give us a call on 01752 753723.

    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.