Aside from the umbilical cord blood, the umbilical cord itself is also rich in valuable stem cells that can potentially save your baby or your family’s health in the future. And a small piece of the umbilical cord can also be preserved in a private stem cell bank (umbilical cord tissue banking) for your family’s exclusive use.
A lot of information has been published about umbilical cord tissue stem cells in the past several years. It can be difficult to determine which facts and figures are the most important, particularly if you are a busy soon-to-be-parent trying to learn more about stem cell banking. Here are some of the important facts about the umbilical cord tissue to help you get started:
1. Umbilical cord tissue also contains many components with medicinal value
While the focus was initially on the medicinal value of cord blood, researchers eventually discovered that umbilical cord tissue also has valuable components. Umbilical cord tissue consists of three major blood vessels surrounded by layers of Wharton’s jelly — a gelatinous substance which protects the umbilical cord and allows it to be flexible. Researchers have found that Wharton’s jelly contains many stem cells and growth factors, which are of significant medicinal value.
The umbilical cord tissue is rich in stem cells including mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), unrestricted somatic stem cells (USSCs), vascular endothelial stem cells, perivascular stem cells and other cell types not present within the umbilical cord blood.
2. Collecting the umbilical cord tissue is simple, pain-free and risk-free
One of the greatest advantages of using the stem cells found in the cord tissue and cord blood is that it can easily be obtained. After a child has been born, when the umbilical cord is clamped and detached, a piece of umbilical cord is collected by the doctor or midwife. It is a simple, painless, and risk-free procedure for both mother and child.
Signing up to umbilical cord tissue banking with Cells4Life is simple. Since this service is an add-on to the main cord blood banking services we offer, you only need to inform our representative that you want to store the umbilical cord tissue as well. Then we’ll give you a collection kit that includes materials for collecting a piece of the umbilical cord. After collection, it will be shipped together with the cord blood sample to our laboratory in the UK for testing and processing.
WATCH VIDEO: CORD BLOOD & CORD TISSUE COLLECTION
3. Mesenchymal stem cells are the most valuable component in cord tissue
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent stem cells that can differentiate (change) into multiple types of cells, including cartilage, muscle, bone and nerve cells. MSCs are currently the subject of dozens of research projects, which are looking at their ability to treat conditions like:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Type 1 diabetes
- Liver disease
- Breast cancer
- Spinal injuries
- Lung cancer
- Macular degeneration
- Sports injuries
4. Cord tissue stem cells are more likely to be compatible with your family
One of the major benefits of preserving your child’s umbilical cord tissue is that the stem cells it contains are more likely to benefit immediate family members. Stem cells from the umbilical cord is 100% match to your child and there is 25% chance of a perfect match with siblings. They can potentially be used for parents and other relatives too. This means the stem cells within a child’s umbilical cord tissue may be used to benefit many members of the family if they become ill or have an accident.
Cells4Life have released privately stored cord tissue stem cells for treatment of Epidermolysis bullosa in 2014.
5. Cord tissue stem cells have a lower risk of rejection
Prior to a stem cell transplant occurring, a “matching” process must occur. This process will test if human leukocyte antigens (HLA) on the stem cells will cause them to be considered foreign cells when transplanted, as they may lead to graft vs host disease (an immune condition that occurs in a patient after transplantation when immune cells present in donor tissue (the graft) attack the host’s own tissues).
One significant advantage of cord tissue stem cells is that they are younger cells, so are less likely to trigger an immune system reaction when transplanted. This allows doctors to perform cord tissue stem cell transplants even if there is not a perfect HLA match between donor and recipient.
6. Cord tissue can be stored for a long time
Researchers believe that cord tissue and cord blood can be stored for many decades in cryogenic storage. Various studies have been performed to test the viability of cord blood held in long-term storage. They have all found that the tested samples to still contain large quantities of viable stem cells. The most recent study tested cord blood samples that have been in storage for 21 to 23.5 years and found them to be viable.
For cord tissue banking, we offer storage of 20, 25, 30, 35 and 60 years – you can also extend in 5 year blocks should you want to extend your current storage plan.
We store the umbilical cord tissue in multiple subdivisions so you can use just a portion of the sample stored as required for treatment and then keep the remaining in storage until needed in the future. We also offer to store in two geographically separate locations in the UK for more security.
With cord tissue banking, instead of discarding the umbilical cord tissue at birth (as most hospitals normally do), it is preserved so the valuable stem cells it contains can be used later for your baby or other family members.
Would you like to learn more about cord tissue banking? Speak to one of our specialists now on +971 4 3116613 or send us an email