Cord blood and its components
Good concentrations of white blood cells and stem cells are found in cord blood, even when it is banked. Although often overlooked, cord blood samples have approximately 10 times higher TNCs or total nucleated cells than stem cells. TNCs, also known as white blood cells or leukocytes, are cells that make up the immune system and offer protection to the body. Although stem cells make up only a tenth of all collections, cord blood can still be considered a rich source for hematopoietic stem cells. The marker CD34+ is often used to identify hematopoietic stem cells. Hematopoietic stem cells get transformed into myeloid or lymphoid cells. Myeloid cells from platelets, red blood cells, and other blood cells. Lymphoid cells, which go on to form the B and T cells, lay the foundation of the immune system. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are also found in cord blood.
Researchers are finding uses for other cells found in cord blood to enhance human life quality. The potential of cord blood Treg cells in addressing stem cell transplantation complications is great. Treg cells found in cord blood can also help with autoimmune diseases like diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Natural killer cells present in cord blood have amazing potential as a future treatment option. Clinical trials have shown that these cells can be programmed to attack specific types of cancer and tumors. These cells can be helpful in the future for treating cancer types that are resistant to treatment.
Scientists are also using expansion technologies to boost the replication of stem cells. These expansion technologies, if approved by concerned authorities, will allow scientists to cultivate many stem cells from a small amount of them. Researchers and doctors could then have enough stem cells to treat multiple relatives of a donor with one cord blood sample or give the donor multiple treatments. Some cord blood banks have started to separate cord blood collections into distinct compartments— this allows them to be more prepared for when expansion technologies will become easier and more accessible to the medical world.
What is cord blood banking?
Although banking cord blood can be a new and unfamiliar experience for parents, it is not difficult. Most mothers worry about their baby’s delivery and don’t want to worry about the hassle of collecting or storing cord blood. So, the majority of the work is done by the concerned cord blood bank and the healthcare provider. These are the steps involved in cord blood banking, put out simply-
- First, a collection kit is sent by the cord blood bank. Some of such kits can be stored at room temperature.
- The kit is sent with the to-be parents to the delivery centre.
- Certain regulations set by authorities require that the mother’s blood be taken upon admission to test for infectious diseases.
- The healthcare provider will clamp and cut the umbilical cord as usual at the time of birth.
- The approximate amount of cord blood that remains in the umbilical cord or placenta is between 40 and 120 millilitres. The cord blood will be extracted from the umbilical cord by the healthcare provider without causing any harm to the mother or baby.
- The bag containing the baby’s cord blood as well as the vials containing the mother’s blood is put inside the kit.
- To arrange for cord blood transportation to the cord bank, parents can call the toll-free number listed on the collection kit.
This is a simplified version of how to do cord blood banking.
Here are some of the reasons why parents should consider cord blood banking-
- The umbilical cord blood can save lives. Cord blood is rich in stem cells that can transform into many different types of blood cells. This can be used to treat blood disorders such as leukaemia, certain cancers, sickle cell anaemia, and other metabolic disorders. There are several ways that transplant patients can get stem cells, such as from the bone marrow, but stem cells present in cord blood are more convenient to match with patients. And since they are collected from the umbilical cord during birth, it is a painless procedure.
- Cord blood transplants have become more successful lately. The results of cord blood transplants are better because researchers and clinicians have learned more on how to store cord blood, pick better matches and give the patient better care as they go through the process.
- Cord blood shows promise towards future medical procedures. Researchers are exploring new ways to treat diseases with cord blood. Duke University is one example. Researchers at Duke University are using cord blood from patients in trials to treat cerebral palsy or hypoxic-ischemic (a condition where the brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen). Other researchers are also conducting trials for autism treatment with the help of cord blood.