Organized by Save the Cord Foundation, World Cord Blood Day raises awareness of current and future uses of cord blood stem cells. To mark the occasion, the Foundation will host a free online conference on 17th November, welcoming parents, doctors, nurses and midwives. As one of the world’s largest family cord blood banks, we take our own look at the amazing benefits of cord blood stem cells in current medicine, and how they could help us in the future.
What are cord blood stem cells?
Our bodies contain thousands of stem cells; specialist cells that can turn into and replicate other cell types. But what’s so important about those found in cord blood?
Cord blood stem cells are found in umbilical cord blood, cord tissue and the placenta. They are similar to bone marrow stem cells, but can be collected after birth in a quick, non-invasive way that doesn’t interfere with delayed cord clamping.
Your baby’s cord blood contains two types of stem cell: Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).
HSCs can turn into red and white blood cells and MSCs can turn into various tissue types, such as nerve and muscle.
Present uses of cord blood:
As the field of regenerative medicine advances, more parents are turning to cord blood banking. According the Human Tissue Authority (HTA), the number of privately processed cord blood units increased from 10,676 in 2014 to 15,078 in 2018. This is likely due to the growing therapeutic potential of HSCs, which are found in abundance within umbilical cord blood.
Currently, HSCs found in cord blood are used in around 85 standard therapies to treat blood-related and genetic illnesses. These include types of leukaemia, anaemia and other immunodeficiency conditions.
The uses of cord blood stem cells aren’t just related to treating diseases and conditions – various athletes and famous figures have reportedly turned to cord blood transplants for sports injury, such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafael Nadal.
Future uses of cord blood:
Cord blood HSCs are present in hundreds of clinical trials, from neurological disorders like autism, to treating life-threatening illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, heart diseases and type 1 diabetes. Many of these clinical trials have shown promising results so far, with some leading to successful experimental therapies.
• Boy’s own cord blood stem cells help treat autism
• Facu’s cord blood stem cells help treat cerebral palsy
• Amelia in cancer remission after cord blood stem cell transplant
The future of cord blood in medicine is exciting and leading to break-throughs every year. This makes it all the more important for families to consider cord blood banking. Storing these powerful stem cells with a private bank could one day offer treatment support, or even a lifeline, for you and your children.
Joining the #WCBD20 conversation
To learn about the latest hot topics and developments around cord blood, sign up to join the World Cord Blood Day conference for free on 17th November 2020.