Why store umbilical cord blood stem cells?

Storing cord blood stem cells is an investment in the health of your children and of compatible family members. The preserved cells can be used in the treatment of serious diseases. More than 40,000 stem cell transplants from umbilical cord blood carried out around the world for the treatment of many diseases confirm the importance and scientific validity of preservation (1).

Unfortunately, today in Italy, where about 500,000 children are born per year, only 0.4% of available umbilical cord blood is stored in one of the Italian public banks. Private autologous banks keep less than 2%. This means that more than 97% of the umbilical cords that could be stored are, in fact, disposed.

Bioscience Institute and other private banks has always contributed to raising awareness of the importance of stem cell preservation, whether public or private.

1. Ballen KK et al. Umbilical cord blood transplantation: the first 25 years and beyond. Blood. 2013 Jul 25;122(4):491-8. doi: 10.1182/blood-2013-02-453175

Embryonic and adult stem cells

There are two families of stem cells: embryonic and adult. The cells that can be preserved by taking cord tissue are adult stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells

Embryonic stem cells are found in the embryo from conception until the fourth day of gestation. These are totipotent cells, that is, capable of giving rise to all types of specialized cells in the organism. Today there is no scientific evidence regarding the safety of their use and possible clinical uses.

Adult stem cells

The cells that can be stored by taking umbilical cord blood are adult stem cells. Adult stem cells are undifferentiated cells that multiply to replace damaged cells and regenerate tissues. Unlike embryonic stem cells, their use for therapeutic purposes is not controversial because the destruction of an embryo is not required and because their biosafety has been abundantly demonstrated.

Why store cord blood and cord tissue?

For more than twenty years it has been shown that hematopoietic stem cells, present in the blood of the umbilical cord, are endowed with a marked plasticity that makes them useful for the treatment of various diseases.

From the cord tissue, it is possible to isolate mesenchymal adult stem cells. They are multipotent cells from which it is possible to obtain most of the types of cells present in the body (2) and for this reason they find application in the therapeutic treatment of diseases that affect many organs and tissues.

2. Ogawa M et al. Hematopoietic Stem Cells Are Pluripotent and Not Just “Hematopoietic”. Blood Cells Mol Dis. 2013 Jun; 51(1): 3–8. doi: 10.1016/j.bcmd.2013.01.008

Allogeneic (heterologous) preservation from donations

Donations involve extracting the stem cells from umbilical cord blood and making them available to the community.

In this case, after verifying the suitability of the parents, the umbilical cord blood is collected at the time of delivery and the extracted cells are stored in a public bank. When required, they are given to anyone who may need them for a transplant, after verification of compatibility.

In 2014, 19,459 units of cord blood were collected for donation, of which only 1,738 were frozen.

Why choose autologous conservation?

When stem cells are stored for the newborn, this is referred to as autologous storage. According to Italian legislation, if the newborn is affected by a pathology, he/she has the right to free autologous conservation at a public bank.

The Decree of 18 November 2009 lists the diseases that are currently treatable with stem cells from umbilical cord blood. However, if the newborn is healthy and the conservation request is made for preventive purposes, parents should contact private laboratories, such as the Bioscience Institute.

Are you pregnant?

Are you thinking of storing your child's stem cells?

Cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord after the baby is born and is a valuable source of stem cells.

Until recently it was treated as “waste” and eliminated with hospital waste along with the placenta and the umbilical cord. It is currently used in the treatment of around 100 serious diseases.

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