If you’re considering cord blood banking, then it’s essential to understand how your baby’s stem cells can be used in disease therapy. Cord blood stem cells are the body’s “master cells” and have powerful healing capabilities; by cryogenically freezing your newborn’s stem cells you are preserving them in their purest form.
During a stem cell transplant, damaged or destroyed stem cells are replaced with healthy stem cells, and they are used in hospitals worldwide to treat around 80 diseases. Besides current therapies for cancer and blood diseases, stem cells from newborn cord blood, tissue, and placenta are being studied for new treatments in regenerative and transplant medicine, conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, heart defects, and diabetes.
Here is an overview of some of the main diseases that cord blood can currently be used to treat:
One of the most well documented is leukaemia and stem cells have been used to treat both children and adults with the disease since the early 90s. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in Sept 2016, cord blood transplants were found to have similar survival rates as bone marrow transplants, but life expectancy was longer and the risk of relapse less when using cord blood.
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma are other forms of cancer that can be treated with stem cells. People with the disease may require very high doses of chemotherapy, which can damage the stem cells, leading to low blood counts and other serious side effects. A stem cell transplant replaces the damaged cells, meaning you can still be treated with the higher dose of chemotherapy. What’s more, receiving a stem cell transplant from a family member (or another match) can also help your immune system fight the lymphoma should it return.
Sickle Cell Anaemia
Anaemia is the most common blood disorder, affecting about a third of the world’s population, and Sickle Cell Disease is a particularly severe form caused by genetics. A number of children have been treated for Sickle Cell Disease with stem cell transplants, and the medical community is exploring stem cell treatment options to successfully treat adults with the same condition. In 2017, an eight-year-old boy from Abu Dhabi received a transplant of cord blood stem cells from his younger brother, which were stored with CellSave.
Beta thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that reduces the production of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the iron-containing protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to cells throughout the body; low levels of hemoglobin lead to a lack of oxygen. The most common treatment is regular blood transfusions, which has its own side effects, while a stem cell transplant is the only known cure. In 2015, CellSave released a stem cell sample from the UAE to the US, which was used to save the life of a seven-year-old Emirati boy born with the condition.
Find out more about cord blood banking.