October 01, 2014
Becoming educated on the importance of cord blood banking and its value is an essential step you make in deciding to preserve your child’s umbilical cord blood stem cells. By understanding what cord blood banking is and how it is an irreplaceable benefit not only to your child, but possibly other family members as well, means you are making the best informed decision possible.
Unfortunately, to some people hearing the term “stem cell research,” a negative connotation comes to mind. That shouldn’t be the case though because not all stem cells are the same, nor is the source for them, the research involved, or the cells’ practical applications the same. Though some people may have an aversion to the use and studying of stem cells, it is often because of misinformation or misunderstandings.
When it comes to cord blood banking, know that the stem cells that are preserved are just that – CORD BLOOD stem cells. Even though these cells are collected at birth from a newborn’s umbilical cord, they are considered adult stem cells, NOT the sometimes-controversial embryonic stem cells.
And yes, there is a difference.
Stem cells are the basic building blocks for the body and of all the hundreds of types of cells it contains. They have two defining properties: its ability to self-renew and its multi-differentiative potential. All stem cells are undifferentiated, meaning they initially have no specific purpose; however, they have the ability to divide indefinitely and become specialized when introduced to the right conditions. Once they differentiate, their entire makeup is changed and the cells begin to react differently to signals from the body, essentially “becoming” the functional and responsive type of new cell it was intended.
Adult stem cells can be found in several places in the body, most commonly, however, is the umbilical cord blood and lining and in bone marrow. Having the ability to seek out and heal damaged cells in the body, stem cells are opening up the potential for healing. Countless therapeutic treatment options utilizing these stem cells are available to patients today, making them very valuable in the management of many chronic or fatal diseases that were once considered incurable. Today, more than 80 diseases can be treated with stem cell transplants.
Embryonic stem cells on the other hand are human embryos produced in a lab via in vitro fertilization, specifically designated for scientific research. While embryonic stem cell research has generated controversy due to the fact that the embryos are created specifically for research, the field has definitely made its own incredible advances in the field of medicine in much the same way that adult stem cells have. Both types of cells have their place in the field of stem cell research, however, CariCord is involved in only one type – adult stem cells from umbilical cords and cord linings.