As you now may understand, Cord blood collection and banking in newborns comprises two types of processes. First and most importantly, cord blood we can be collected from the blood that remains in the umbilical cord of the baby after the baby is delivered. This process is called Umbilical Cord Blood collection and the blood is collected by your Obstetrician at delivery. Then the blood bag with the collected cord blood will reach us immediately via our nurse that is present in the delivery room. We will separate the Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells in our laboratory and store them it in Liquid Nitrogen at -196 C. These stem cells are called “Hematopoietic Stem Cells-HSC” and their job is to make new blood cells throughout our lives (our red blood cells are replaced every 120 days and our white cells every time we have an infection). In adult life they are found in our bone marrow!
If a blood disease strikes, like different types of anemias, or blood cancers like lymphomas, leukemias, or childhood cancers, then these Umbilical Cord Blood (UCB) Stem Cells can regenerate a diseased bone marrow via a lifesaving procedure called bone marrow transplantation! Those are the cells used and needed when a bone marrow transplant is necessary. These cells can ONLY be replaced by bone marrow stem cells or adult peripheral blood stem cells (link to adult).
The other type below cannot be used for bone marrow transplants. Cord blood have been used in bone marrow transplantations since 1988, while adult stem cells and bone marrow cells have been used since 1956. All the current indications for diseases cured/treated by bone marrow transplantations as of 2019 in Europe and the west can be found in this reference (1).
Moreover, in the past 15 years, we have learned that this cord blood can be lifesaving in Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI: as in car accidents, falls, drowning, etc.) which are the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in infants, toddlers, and teenagers between the ages 0 to 15 years and for which no treatment exists!
Furthermore, after the Umbilical Cord Blood collection, the doctor can be asked to collect a piece of the Umbilical Cord itself. This is important as Umbilical Cord Tissue-CT contains Mesenchymal Stromal Cells or MSC. Those MSC cannot replace cord blood in bone marrow transplants but can be used for regenerative purposes, cosmetic, aesthetic, degenerative joint diseases like osteoarthritis or tendon injuries. A lot of research is ongoing in allergic skin diseases, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, skin burns and skin ulcers, etc. For the latest information on MSC pluripotency see this reference (2). The potential of MSC use is vast as their potency seems to be pliable and yet unexplored (2). But, if you are to use them in the future, you will have to collect and store them. Do not forego this opportunity.
Another important advantage of those MSC is that they have not yet developed tissue recognition markers and thus MSC use is not restricted to the owner but even other close family members can benefit according to many recent research studies (2).
MSC can either be made immediately after birth by culture in our laboratory (for immediate use and to speed up cell production in the future) or later from the frozen cord tissue if needed in the future.
Thus, depending on each family’s needs, collecting and storing the cord blood (UCB) as well as collecting and storing a part of the umbilical cord (CT), both for a total storage of 20 years is the best INITIAL option. Should you require collection of Placenta and Amnion Tissues.
Do not let this opportunity pass you by. There in so sadder moment in life than knowing there is a cure for your life-threatening condition but you cannot access it.
Duarte RF, Labopin M, Bader P, et al. Indications for haematopoietic stem cell transplantation for haematological diseases, solid tumours and immune disorders: current practice in Europe, 2019. Bone Marrow Transplant. 2019;54(10):1525-1552. doi:10.1038/s41409-019-0516-2
Garzon I, Chato-Astrain J, Campos F, et al. Expanded Differentiation Capability of Human Wharton's Jelly Stem Cells Toward Pluripotency: A Systematic Review. Tissue Eng Part B Rev. 2020;26(4):301-312. doi:10.1089/ten.TEB.2019.0257