Awaiting the baby: save the most important

Just recall what is customary in families to preserve after the baby is born: a tag from the hospital with the name and time of birth, a piece of a dried umbilical cord, the first cut strand of hair, the first slippers, the first spoon… Of course, all this brings back to memory the important and pleasant moments, but, unfortunately, it does not insure the child from health problems. A less sentimental but more practical alternative is to store both the umbilical cord and other biological materials containing valuable stem cells in the cryobank. Entrusted to professionals, they will serve as reliable insurance for the child during many years, and in the future, if necessary, can save their life.

Stroller, clothes, contract for the storage of biological materials…

There are many worries in every family before the birth of a baby. One needs to prepare a room where the newborn with mom will stay, buy a crib, a stroller, a bathtub, baby bed linen and tiny clothes, arousing tenderness in most mothers … This is known and done by all families. And increasingly often, a magic contract comes into the set of children’s “dowry”: an agreement signed by parents with a cryobank. It is in the cryobank, where all the most valuable remains after the childbirth: the umbilical cord blood, the placenta and the umbilical cord. Only having such an agreement in hand, the expectant mother can rest assured that she really has done everything for her baby. After all, having preserving these biological materials, she provided the child with its own stem cells, which at any time, at any age, can be useful for the treatment of various diseases, including very serious ones.

Immediately after the baby is born, the umbilical cord blood is often collected and stored – such a practice has been existing in the world for about 30 years. But nevertheless, it is better to request also the collection and storage of the placenta and umbilical cord in an agreement with a cryobank. All of these biological materials contain stem cells. There are various types of stem cells, they have different indications for use and have different effects. In addition, the placenta can be processed in several ways, so that not only stem cells are obtained from it, but also a valuable extract. We will tell you more about the properties of each type of the biological material and the prospects for its use. This information will help every family make the choice to store one or more stem cell sources.

For which purposes are cord blood stem cells used

Cord blood is the most commonly stored biological material at birth. It is one of the sources of hematopoietic stem cells – those that differentiate into blood cells. Because of the ability to “transform” into different types of cells, fully assuming their functions, hematopoietic stem cells are called universal. They are used for  the treatment of malignant blood diseases, in particular, leukemias and lymphomas, as well as for severe congenital immunodeficiencies, myelodysplastic syndrome, and other diseases that it is difficult to treat. These cells are often obtained from the bone marrow of a donor, however, in many cases, hematopoietic cord blood stem cells can serve as an alternative.

In addition, cord blood contains endothelial progenitor cells that are promising in the treatment of vascular diseases, as well as very small cells, similar to embryonic ones, capable of repairing damaged tissues.

Both donor cells of the umbilical cord blood, and autologous cells, that is, the own ones are used, f.i. isolated from cord blood at birth and stored in a cryobank. The possibility of using autologous cord blood cells is especially important, since it is very difficult to find a compatible bone marrow donor for transplantation in case of malignant blood diseases. In some cases, the chances are 1:1,000,000, especially if the donor cells are needed for a child born to parents from different ethnic groups. By the way, mixed ethnicity is one of the indications for the collection and storage of umbilical cord blood – it is strongly recommended that ethnically and racially mixed families store the cells at birth, as it is difficult to find a bone marrow stem cell donor for a child if necessary.

Do not forget that collecting cord blood and other biological materials after giving birth is a simple, painless and safe procedure – unlike bone marrow collection, that is a painful and complicated surgery for a donor.

Besides blood diseases, cord blood stem cells are also used for the treatment of other pathologies:

  • genetically determined metabolic diseases
  • congenital anemia, in particular sickle cell anemia
  • aplastic anemia
  • primary (congenital) immunodeficiencies

Clinical studies are going on, in which cord blood stem cells are transplanted for cerebral palsy, cerebral ischemia, autism, type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus, Crohn’s disease, acute pancreatitis, critical limbs ischemia, and many other diseases. As a promising cancer treatment, genetically modified cord blood T-lymphocytes are being actively studied. In addition, the so-called iPS cells with unlimited potential for the treatment of many diseases are obtained from cord blood stem cells (the scientists Sinya Yamanaka (Japan) and John Gerdon (Great Britain) received the Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology in 2012 for their discovery) .

Important: if you saved the umbilical cord blood of your child in a cryobank, then you provided it with a unique medicine that is 100% suitable according to the criterion of immune compatibility, which can be used at any age for many serious illnesses. The presence of such a “deposit” in the cryobank is a guarantee that, if necessary, you do not have to look for donor cells that the body will not reject. There is also the possibility of immune similarity of cord blood cells with the relatives of the child whose biological material has been preserved. In particular, these are siblings and less likely one of the parents. Cells can also be donated to a stranger who is not a relative of the donor. That is why in some countries there are not only family cord blood banks that preserve “deposits” for personal use of the family, but also public banks in which parents of newborns donate cord blood as a charity. Once in a special registry, donor cells can be used for any person – a child or an adult – who needs transplantation. As we already wrote, only family cord blood banks are operated in Ukraine, among which the Cryobank of the Institute of Cell Therapy is the leader in the field of clinical use of stem cells.

Cord blood also contains mesenchymal stem cells .

Why is it necessary to store the umbilical cord after birth

Of course, this is not about a dried-up piece of the umbilical cord, which some mothers carefully preserve next to the tag from the hospital with the name of the child. It refers to the umbilical cord, which after cutting used to be disposed of together with the placenta, about which you will read later. Now the umbilical cord can be stored immediately after birth for subsequent isolation of stem cells from it – hematopoietic and mesenchymal ones. Mesenchymal stem cells are able to differentiate into the cells of bone, cartilage and adipose tissue, skin, blood vessels, heart valves, myocardium, and liver. They are used in autoimmune diseases (systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, vasculitis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease), osteoarthritis, in the treatment of diabetic foot (severe complication of diabetes mellitus), cardiomyopathy, liver cirrhosis, traumas of different severity, in dentistry for the growth of the bone tissue before implants loading, as well as in many other cases requiring restoration of bone tissue, blood vessels, and cartilage.

Umbilical cord collection is neither dangerous nor complicated for the mother or a baby, therefore, we recommend that you save not only the umbilical cord blood, but also the umbilical cord as an additional source of mesenchymal stem cells. The cryobank of the Institute of Cell Therapy stores the umbilical cord divided into small fragments in a special cryopreservation medium, which allows to preserve cell viability during long-term storage at a temperature of -196 ° C.

The placenta is a unique source of health

In ancient times, the placenta was considered magical, it was endowed with incredible healing properties, and that is why dried, crushed, applied to wounds … Fanned with myths and legends, it was a welcome “trophy” for magicians and sorcerers, therefore midwives, who also believed in the power of this natural gift, carefully guarded the placenta after taking birth. In ancient times, placental preparations were used to treat wounds in soldiers, Cleopatra used masks from the placenta, and in the very recent past, the placenta was probably used for the manufacturing of remedies to facilitate the recovery of Soviet cosmonauts. Modern medicine has long known the unique composition of the placenta and its amazing properties, which have found their application in cosmetology. However, for the past few decades, it has been used not only for the manufacturing of extracts for rejuvenation and healing of tissues, but also for the isolation of stem cells. We wrote in detail about the fields of application of the placenta extract and cells in one of our publications.

The peculiarity of the placenta is that it contains a large number of mesenchymal stem cells with low immunogenicity, that is, they can be used not only to treat the baby, at the birth of which the placenta and umbilical cord were preserved, but also its relatives. From the placenta, you can get both stem cells and the extract used in regenerative medicine, cosmetology, endocrine gynecology. When concluding an agreement on the transfer of biological material for storage, the type of drugs that are supposed to be stored is stipulated: extract or stem cells. Also, the Cryobank of the Institute of Cell Therapy uses amniotic placental membrane to make a corneal transplant applied in the treatment of keratitis of various etiologies – clinical trials of this technique are ongoing.

In Western countries, the placenta is increasingly preserved after childbirth, and we also recommend that you do not miss this opportunity and increase the therapeutic possibilities for the whole family due to cells and placenta extract. Indeed, thanks to this, there will be more stem cells with different potentials and different indications for use, and their repeated use will become possible. For example, placenta extract is often used by mothers for cosmetic and anti-aging purposes. Its volume is quite enough that the child can also benefit from the extract application later. In addition, all stored biological material will go to the disposal of the child after his majority.

Preparing for the appearance of the baby, parents can provide it not only with comfortable conveniences, love and care, but also give an additional reserve of health and a unique medicine that, if necessary, will help in the fight against the disease and will give a chance to take advantage of the most modern medicine.

Many methods of treating diseases using hematopoietic and mesenchymal stem cells are currently undergoing clinical trials, stem cell transplantation has already been approved in the treatment of more than 100 diseases, and this list will only be expanded in the future. Every year, science opens up new possibilities for using this unique gift of nature. Give your child a universal medicine – its own stem cells to maintain health and longevity.