JULY IS CORD BLOOD AWARENESS MONTH:
10 Awesome Cord Blood Discoveries
Umbilical cord blood stem cells have been used to help treat a whole range of diseases and conditions. These stem cells can develop and grow into blood vessels, organs and even tissues, making them a versatile component in various treatments.
Let’s take a look at 10 of the greatest cord blood discoveries and why they’re so important.
Lung progenitor cells
Growing and purifying lung progenitor cells are now possible and this means that ‘bronchosperes’ can now be created – clusters of lung cells. This will enable scientists to recreate the environment of diseases such as cystic fibrosis and test different drugs within a safe environment.
Inner ear parts
In a new study by the US University School of Medicine, scientists have been able to grow parts of the inner ear from stem cells. This will enable researchers to test varying treatments for those with hearing impairments.
Treatment of cataracts
Another ground-breaking cord blood discovery is the ability to treat cataracts in children with the use of stem cells. This research involves the regeneration of the removed lens that had been affected by the cataracts and is a less invasive form of treatment.
Regenerating and repairing lungs
In a new treatment for cystic fibrosis (CF), a discovery of how to focus stem cells to create lung cells could contribute to the regenerating of damaged parts of the lung. This would be an effective treatment for CF as it would repair the damage caused by the disease.
By using stem cells, researchers are able to replace the gene responsible for inflammation with an anti-inflammatory agent in a study dedicated to the treatment of arthritis.
Slowing cognitive decline
Researchers have discovered that the use of cord blood could help prevent the cognitive decline of the elderly. This cord blood discovery involves the usage of TIMP2 – a protein found in cord blood – and its effect on the region of the brain responsible for memory and spatial navigation.
Helping cancer patients
Alongside the many other uses of cord blood, one discovery is helping cancer patients on their road to recovery. Using the haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) found in cord blood, doctors can help cancer patients – and those with immunity disorders – by restoring the ability to produce healthy blood cells after chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
With some evidence linking dysfunctional immune systems to autism, a clinical trial took place to determine the effects of cord blood stem cells. So far, the clinical trials involving cord blood transplants have proven to be successful in helping to treat autism.
Treating cerebral palsy
Cord blood stem cells are being used to treat cerebral palsy via a transplant. The stem cells are then able to repair and rejuvenate the damaged cells in the brain in order to treat the condition. The first phase of the trial is currently underway after smaller clinical trials showed promising results.
Damaged brain cells from a stroke
Treating the aftermaths of a stroke can be a varied process, but once brain cells have been damaged, it can be extremely difficult to recover. An initial research project has experimented with inserting stem cells close to the affected brain area to repair nerve cells and so far has shown positive results.