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What are umbilical cord stem cells?
The umbilical cord contains millions of stem cells, cells which can be collected and stored at birth, and can be used to treat over 85 diseases and conditions. Stem cells in the umbilical cord are shared between mother and baby during pregnancy, making them a 100% DNA match to the donor, a 50% match to the parents and 25% match to their sibling. If collected and stored at birth, cord stem cells have the potential to be used for numerous future treatments for your children.
How stem cells work
Stem cells can be found in various body tissues: blood, muscle, skin, bone marrow, nerves and the liver. The key property of all stem cells is that they are undifferentiated, meaning they can replicate endlessly and replace/renew many types of damaged cells in the body. In fact, stem cells can divide and replicate over 200 types of specialist cells that are linked to the function of your immune system, heart, oxygen distribution and much more.
With this power to renew damaged cells that are so crucial to our body’s health, it comes as no surprise that stem cells are currently used in over 85 treatments and 5,000 clinical trials around the world. Current treatments include:
Bone marrow cancer
Inherited immune system disorders
Inherited metabolic disorders
Inherited red cell abnormalities
Solid tumours (outside the blood and immune system)
If stem cells are collected and stored by a professional stem cell bank, they can become part of many treatments and therapies that you might need in the future, to help tissue organically heal and repair.
Introduction to cord blood banking.
Discover the benefits of umbilical cord blood stem cells, and why they should be stored at birth.
What makes umbilical cord stem cells special?
The umbilical cord is the richest and purest source of stem cells. It contains two types of cells: Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).
Each type can transform into different cells and tissues, such as white and red blood cells, nerve and muscle tissue. Collecting umbilical cord stem cells is completely non-invasive and pain-free, compared to bone marrow apheresis stem cells which require hospitalisation. They are also completely ethical to collect. If you are considering stem cell banking for your baby, umbilical cord stem cells are your best option. The rich source of pure or “naïve” stem cells it contains give your baby a stronger chance of successful treatment. They are perfectly matched to the DNA of your baby and can by cryogenically frozen for 25 years or more.
As scientific research improves, there are more discoveries being made where umbilical cord stem cells can help treat life-affecting diseases and conditions – including very promising trials into treating autism. Without collecting stem cells, the umbilical cord would simply be discarded, so the sample collection process doesn’t interfere at all with your birth. Thanks to the DNA link to the mother, umbilical cord stem cells have a 25% chance of being a suitable treatment match for a sibling.