Stories about treatments using umbilical cord blood stem cells are increasingly in the news. As more parents become aware of the healing and regenerative power of these stem cells, they are faced with two questions:
- Should they spend money to preserve their baby’s stem cells in a private bank or depend upon publicly donated stem cells?
- Do they need to keep stem cells if they have a healthy family?
Why Save Cord Blood?
For parents who have a history of cancer, blood or immune system disorders in the family, the answer might be easy. That is because of the existing treatments for those conditions, many of which use umbilical cord blood stem cells. Stem cells are already used to treat nearly 80 serious medical conditions including:
- Many forms of Leukaemia including Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), Acute myelogenous leukaemia (AML), Non-Hodgkins’s lymphoma and Neuroblastoma
- Blood disorders including Fanconi anaemia, sickle cell anaemia and Thalassemia
- Bone Marrow disorders including Myelofibrosis and severe aplastic anaemi
- Various metabolic disorders including Krabbe disease and Bare lymphocyte syndrome
- Common variable immune deficiency (CVID), Severe combined immune deficiency (SCID) and other immunodeficiencies
But for parents who come from relatively healthy families with no experience of those diseases, they might wonder — why save cord blood?
The answer is very simple: the potential upcoming medical treatments based on umbilical cord blood stem cells are nothing short of amazing.
There are dozens of research and clinical trials around the world using umbilical cord blood stem cells that have wide-reaching implications. If some of these research and trials come to fruition, it will mean that your child’s umbilical cord stem cells may be useful to your entire family, not just the child it came from.
For example, there is ongoing research which aims to determine if umbilical cord stem cells could be used to repair degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. If this research leads to a treatment, your child’s stem cells may be of use to you or older relatives.
The field of regenerative medicine is looking at using umbilical cord blood stem cells to regenerate various components within the human body. Some of the current areas of regenerative medicine research include:
- Treatments for ailments that cause blindness,
- Repairing spinal injuries,
- Repairing damage to skin tissue (burns, scars, defects, injuries),
- Rebuilding other forms of tissue including muscles, ligaments, tendons and arteries.
- Repairing cardiac damage after a heart attack
- A cure for Parkinson’s disease and cystic fibrosis
- Even re-growing hair!
So instead of a small subset of medical conditions, the potential uses for umbilical cord stem cells are very wide-reaching. Even if only two or three of these research areas culminate in a treatment for a condition, it would be a substantial improvement upon current medical technologies.
The importance of saving your child’s umbilical cord blood stem cells is enhanced by two other factors:
- The umbilical cord stem cells are autologous for your child (a perfect DNA match) and a very close match for relatives. This is important for avoiding transplant rejection.
- You can access the stem cells whenever you need them and for whatever purpose you need them.
Having full control over your child’s stem cells and not having to depend on requests to a public stem cell bank is very important. It means you can obtain your child’s stem cells very quickly, as soon as you need them. It also means that you have full control over what they are used for. So if a cosmetic treatment that uses stem cells becomes available, your child can use their stem cells for that treatment. In some cases publicly available stem cells may not be available immediately, or only available for certain procedures. Learn more about the pros and cons of public and private cord blood banking here
Preserving umbilical cord blood stem cells can be thought of as both a safety net for your family and an investment in your family’s future. You will have secured valuable biological asset which protects your family against many medical conditions and sets them up for a healthy future.
Contact Cells4Life today to discuss your requirements and learn more about our services.