Choosing the right stem cell package
Before getting pregnant, you probably didn’t know that much about stem cell storage or why it’s one of the most rapidly developing areas of medical research. Even when you are expecting, you’re likely to have lots of questions. If you’re considering freezing your baby’s stem cells, one important thing to understand is that there are different options available. In fact, there are currently five different types of stem cell banking: cord blood, cord tissue, placental tissue, cord vessel, and amnion placental tissue.
This means that there are more opportunities to safeguard your family’s future. Take a look at our guide to storage types and the diseases unique cells are being used to treat.
Cord blood is the blood that is left in the umbilical cord after your baby is born. It is a rich source of stem cells (with powerful healing capabilities), that are the building blocks of your blood and immune system. After your baby has been delivered, your doctor can collect the remaining blood for future medical use, otherwise, it is just thrown away. The process is quick, easy, and there is no risk to the mother or baby. Diseases that cord blood stem cells are currently used to treat include:
Cancers e.g. Leukaemia and lymphoma
Blood diseases e.g. Sickle cell anaemia and beta thalassemia
In addition, stem cells from newborn cord blood and tissue are being studied for treatments in regenerative and transplant medicine including:
Your newborn’s cord tissue contains powerful and unique stem cells, which have the potential to repair and heal the body in different ways than cord blood stem cells do. These include endothelial cells, epithelial cells and mesenchymal stem cells. Harnessing their ability to create structural and connective tissue, there are presently 14 therapeutic areas under research:
Sports injuries (cartilage)
Type 1 diabetes
Heart & vascular disease
Neurological disease & injury
Skeletal disease & injury
Stem cells from placental tissue have tremendous potential for use in regenerative medicine, including repairing fractured bones and re-growing damaged cartilage. There are over 50 active clinical trials researching the use of placental stem cells for a variety of diseases and injuries, including diabetes, spinal cord injuries, cartilage injuries and ulcerative colitis. As the science of stem cells grows, more excitement is building around potential treatments that involve placental tissue.
Cord vessels are potential life-savers because they contain endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). These special stem cells can turn into endothelial cells, which line our blood vessel walls and help in the formation of new blood vessels. With many clinical trials underway around the world, EPCs could soon provide cures for a wide range of very serious diseases, including advanced liver cirrhosis, ischemic stroke and idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Amnion placental tissue
Amnion tissue is the thin elastic membrane lining the inside of the placental sac, which contains a powerful trio of healing properties: collagen, fibronectin, and hyaluronic acid.
This unique tissue has long been used as an effective tool in topical healing to treat wounds, burns, ulcers, and eye conditions. Its uses continue to grow, and the medical community is conducting widespread clinical trials to assess the full impact of amnion tissue, particularly in the field of regenerative medicine.