The natural function of stem cells is to find damaged and dysfunctional cells in the body and start the healing and renewal process. In short, they are healing the body
There are more than 10 000 billion cells in an adult body. All of them have been originated from a single stem cell – the fertilized egg. Stem cells are immature cells that have not yet specialized. They are unique because they can reproduce themselves by division, while generating more specialized mature cells. By reproducing themselves they retain their immature stage and maintain the level of stem cells in the body. This is a vital feature because a specialized cell normally cannot go back in maturity.
During conception, the egg and the sperm merge into a form of stem cell that begins to divide. As the cells divide, they also become more specialized, they differentiate. Differentiation gives cells certain properties, e.g. if the cell is to become a red or white blood cell or whether it will become a bone or muscle cell. Every part of the human body contains stem cells, but most tissues are not a rich enough source to be harvested for therapeutic applications.
Stem cells can be found in abundance in places like bone marrow and fat tissue, but the younger, more flexible stem cells in the body come from a newborn’s umbilical cord blood and tissue. Umbilical cord stem cells were discovered in the 1960s, and their potential in regenerative medicine was quickly realized.
The most common use of stem cells stored in private banks is sibling donation for the treatment of leukemia. In addition to the 80 treatable conditions today, there is a vast and expanding range of new therapies being researched that anticipate using cord blood and tissue in the future; such as type 1 diabetes, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, autism, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and more.
There are many similarities between people, even though we are different. It is the same with the stem cells that build the tissues of our body. White blood cells or leukocytes are cells in the blood that form part of the body’s immune system, which protects the body against infectious diseases. In our white blood cells, there are proteins (HLA) that allow the body to recognize their own cells and notice if a cell is unfamiliar.
When transplanting stem cells, it is important that recipients and donors have the matching tissue type. If the recipient receives cells that match, the risk of a rejection associated with the treatment decreases. The relationship between donor and recipient has proved important. Generally, a relative is preferred as a donor. The need of exact match between donor and recipient depends on which disease to be treated, the treatment method and the source of stem cells used. Umbilical cord stem cells are an immature stem cell source compared to bone marrow and this makes it easier on tissue type matching.
The umbilical cord and cord blood are two of the richest sources of stem cells in the human body, and they can only be saved at birth. A common misconception is that the saving of stem cells eliminates late cord clamping. When the cut has been made, there is no longer a function for the umbilical cord or placenta. We can always collect the umbilical cord tissue, and even after delayed cord clamping there is usually blood left in the cord. No matter how long you wait, mesenchymal stem cells can always be collected, isolated and stored.
To save your baby’s stem cells after birth, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create your family’s own biological back up. If you want to save your child’s stem cells, it is important that you contact us before the start of your labour.
The natural function of stem cells is to find injured cells in the body and start the healing and regeneration process. In short, they heal the body.
Stem cells are evaluated for many different disease areas. Cord blood are used to treat 80 serious diseases, such as leukemia and a number of rare hereditary blood diseases.