|Stem Cells Explained|
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are those cells in the body that either give rise to more cells like themselves or to differentiated cells that can perform specialized jobs in the body.
How are Stem Cells collected?
Cord Blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta following birth. Cord Blood is routinely discarded with the placenta and umbilical cord. The blood in the cord is a rich source of stem cells. Stem cells are the building blocks of your blood and immune system. Stem cells have the ability to differentiate into other types of cells in the body, and thus give rise to all the tissues, organs and systems in the body. The stems cells in a child's cord blood are genetically unique tothe baby and its biological family.
Due to stem cells ability to differentiate into other types of cell tissue in the body, treatments can be developed for diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Diabetes to name a few. Stem cells found in the cord blood are a valuable biological resource that researchers can use to investigate the potential offuture applications for cord blood stem cells.
Cord Blood Banking
Cord Blood Banking is the process whereby umbilical cord bloodstem cells are saved for potential medical uses. Cord blood banking includes the processes of collection,processing and storing of the umbilical cord blood. Collection involves drawing the cord blood from the umbilical cord, using either the syringe or bag collection method, after the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut. Processing involves the testing of the cord blood to determinewhether it meets eligibility standards and removing and red bloodcells or plasma that will not be needed in transplantation. Storage involves storing the cord blood unit in a vinyl or plastic bag in which it is frozen in liquid nitrogen.
Why are stem cells called "stem cells" ?
There are two types of cord blood banks. Firstly there are the family banks, which store the umbilical cord for one's own family use. Secondly, there are the public donor banks, which store the umbilical cord blood for unrelated or non-family use - which is public use. Every parent has the option of saving their baby's cord blood for their family use, while only a small number of people may be able to donate their baby's cord blood stem cells.
Cord Blood Stem Cells
There are three sources of stem cells: bone marrow, peripheral blood (that is the blood that circulates through the body) and umbilical cord blood. Cord blood stem cells, however, are different from other types of stem cells. By freezing these cells, any aging or damage to these cells is prevented, that usually occurs later in life. Umbilical cord blood stem cells are also more proliferate than adult stem cells, such as those found in bone marrow.
For more information about Stem Cells:
National Institutes of Health - Stem Cell Information
* The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to medically diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Consult a health care practitioner before beginning any health care program.