So its almost time for an expectant mother to deliver her bundle of joy haven gone through nine months maternity period. The bouncing baby during birth comes with an umbilical cord which has supplied the developing child essential nutrients through each trimester.
The cord at birth gets clipped then cut and discarded but scientist has discovered incredible properties buried with the organ. A few minutes after birth umbilical cord blood remains in the placenta and the cord blood has been found to have a high amount of stem cells.
This formally discarded organ has been a link to several scientific discoveries and answers too many genetic disorders and hematopoietic issues, newly born babys umbilical cord blood is a known source for stem cells. Umbilical cord stem cells should not be mistaken for embryonic stem cell which is illegal but cord cells are regulated by the FDA in over twenty one countries.
The first successful stem cell transplant was carried out about twenty six years ago (26) which obviously have developed and grown with more insight into the working of the cells. The question is why cord blood stem cells are that important and the reason is that the rich stem cells are used to treat over seventy five (75) diseases.
They use these stem cells to treat disease that are metabolic, inherited, genetic or hereditary like sickle cell anemia, leukemia, and lymphoma. Scientist is also looking at non hereditary disease like stroke, diabetes1, cardiovascular illness and others.
Umbilical cord blood stem cells constituents
The umbilical cord is the conduit or charnnel between the developing baby and the placenta, it is part and parcel of the embryo, giving it much needed oxygen, and nutrients to grow. The placenta on the other hand acts like a sieve or distiller preventing direct interchange between mother and child making the organ uniquely design for the fetus needs.
The umbilical cord has one vein, which channels nutrients and oxygenated blood and two distinct arteries that does the reverse carries nutrient depleted blood as well as deoxygenated blood away from the fetus. Sometimes the cord has only two veins.
The quantity of blood that flows through this specialized organ is about thirty five mil/ min when it is only two weeks old and it increases exponentially as the fetus develops.
The umbilical cord blood stem cells can be found in the blood left over in the placenta, it contains basic elements that can be found in red blood cells such as plasma, blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and a very rich source of stem cells.
Cord blood stem cells can only produce 1oz of stem cells but the umbilical cord can produce many more stem cells, an adult might require a fix of three cord blood stem cells. Cord blood stem cells can be stored in a cord blood bank either in a private firm or government approved cord blood banks.
Although there are strict regulations listing cord blood banks as tissue banks or human cell banks, government owned banks are still the preferred choice for donors while private families might choose to private firms.
Cord blood stem cells and leukemia
The main purpose and treatment of people living with leukemia is to destroy the leukemia cells and replace them with healthy cells. The three fold method starts with a method called induction therapy; the patient goes through chemotherapy and corticosteroids.
The consolidation therapy is used to kill leukemia cells and replace the dead ones with stem cell implants, usually the stem cells might be donated by a family member to make a match. Regular stem cells harvested from donors have very few marches but umbilical cord blood stem cells dont necessarily have to match perfectly before they can be used.
After the consolidation therapy is the maintenance therapy which involves lower levels of chemotherapy, observation that the leukemia cells are all gone, drugs and a total clean bill after five years observation. Cord blood stem cells offer much leukemia suffers a chance at a normal life.
Most of the stem cells used for patients who have leukemia are from donors, donated umbilical blood cord stem cells helps the patients increase their survival rate. Scientist first grow the cord blood stem cells which rapidly multiples then are later transplanted into lymphoma and leukemia patients greatly improving the quality of lives.
Chemotherapy treatment and cancer
Caner is usually treated using chemotherapy the treatment takes a lot out of patients and stem cells have been know to be administered to cancer patients after the rigors of the treatment. This is done in order to boost dead cell and to replenish red blood cells which the cord blood stem cells would eventual develop into.
Cord blood has many advantages running into the treatment of over seventy five illnesses, the science is not new but more insight gives rise to more scientific discoveries and better results. Some of the applications of stem implant techniques include the treatment of diabetes 1, cardiovascular disease, sickle cell and lymphoma.
Cord blood is an important scientific resource rich in stem cells so we can expect other discoveries that would benefit mankind in the years to come.