What is Cord Blood?
When a baby is born and her umbilical cord is divided or cut, there is some blood that remains within the blood vessels of the part of the cord that is attached to the placenta. Since the baby doesn’t need this extra blood, it can be collected and stored in what is known as cord blood banking. That blood is given the name cord blood or umbilical cord blood, or placental blood.
Use of stem cells found in umbilical cord blood has emerged as a non-invasive, yet efficacious alternative for obtaining hematopoietic stem cells that can be used to treat a variety of diseases involving the blood and bone. These stem cells can be used to treat blood cancers, immune deficiencies, and metabolic disorders.1
The blood that is contained in the part of the cord that joins to the plant has for centuries been treated as just another medical waste, because was considered to be of no use to both the baby and the mother. However, now it has been found that the cord blood is actually a rich source of vital stem cells referred to as the UCB stem cells. These cells are so unique and seem to offer many promising uses now and in the future.1
An examination of the placental blood has shown that it contains all typical elements of blood including white blood cells, red blood cells, plasma, and platelets. In addition, this blood is rich in blood forming hematopoietic stem cells that are similar to the ones you would find in bone marrow. It is for this reason that the cord blood has found its new use in transplantation because it provides an alternative source for stem cells that would previously have to be obtained from an individual’s bone marrow.
The use of cord blood has been increasing on experimental and trial basis to see its efficacy and safety in offering an alternative for stem cells. A majority of umbilical blood transplants have been done for patients having metabolic and genetic diseases. Doctors have treated1 more than 80 different disease using unrelated cord blood transplantations. Researchers are also looking into the possibility of stem cells found in cord blood being used to replace cells that are found in other tissues for example, cells of the heart or nerves.
The young stem cells are able to renew themselves and be specialized. The stem cells have helped in the treatment of children by replacing damaged blood cells and strengthening their immunity system.2
In healthy individuals, their bone marrow, which consists of a soft, fatty tissue helps in the creation of stem cells. In some people however, their bone marrow may not be able to produce enough of these stem cells. People having serious health conditions like cancer, when they undergo chemotherapy and other treatment such as radiation therapy, it can destroy the stem cells. Placenta blood may come in handy in such situations. Also, if an individual’s bone marrow fails to synthesize any or enough stem cells, they may become sick and require new, healthy stem cells, which can be provided through transplantation.
Keywords: cord blood banking; umbilical cord blood; UCB stem cells; source for stem cells; cord blood; stem cells
- Banking Umbilical Cord Blood (UCB) Stem Cells: Awareness, Attitude and Expectations of Potential Donors from One of the Largest Potential Repository (India). http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0155782
- What is Cord Blood? http://www.nationalcordbloodprogram.org/qa/
- What is Cord Blood? https://www.viacord.com/why-bank/cord-blood/
- Cord Blood – What is it and Why is it Important? https://allwomenobgyn.com/cord-blood-what-is-it-and-why-is-it-important/