After cord blood has been collected from a newborn and is processed and cryopreserved, it can take decades. Actually it may not be known how long the cells in CB units can remain viable when stored in liquid nitrogen. Information from the National Cord Blood Program (NCBP) indicates that the earliest units they have were stored back in 1993. When they look at the viability of cells comprising the cord blood units not likely to be used for transplantation because the quality has diminished or deteriorated, they haven’t been found any in units that are in storage for up to 16 years.1
Cord blood units that have been in storage for up to 13 years have been safely used in transplantations, and the outcomes are similar to the results of newly collected and stored units. The deterioration of cord blood units may not come easily if the CB collection, processing, transportation, and preservation and storage are done properly.1
So the viability of cord blood stem cells may be determined by other factors apart from the years of storage.
The FDA has approved treatment for nearly 80 diseases using cord blood cell therapy including lymphoma and leukemia. In cord blood units, the cells comprise hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) and hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPC). These cells are also found in peripheral blood and bone marrow. The use of cord blood is considered to be safer in the sense that chances of rejection are reduced in comparison with the peripheral and bone marrow stem cell and progenitor cell transplants. Extracting blood from the umbilical cord is painless both for the mother and newborn. It is also safe for the baby and the mother. The oldest known CB samples that are still in storage and in perfect condition are more than 23 years old.2
Keywords: cord blood; CB collection; stem cells; use of cord blood
- How long do frozen cord blood cells remain viable? http://www.nationalcordbloodprogram.org/qa/how_long.html
- What is Cord Blood? https://www.cordbloodbanking.com/cord-blood/