February 17, 2014

Adult stem cells, which are generally collected from bone barrow under general anesthesia or peripheral blood stem cells of adults between the ages of 17 and 35 are a bit different from stem cells that are collected from a child’s umbilical cord blood and/or tissue at birth, to be stored in a cord blood bank. These umbilical cord cells, which CariCord collects and stores, can be used to treat upwards of 80 diseases, and thanks to increasing research in the field of regenerative medicine, this number is only increasing. However, adult stem cells typically do not serve such a vast purpose.

If you’ve been watching the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia lately, you’ll notice that most all of the athletes are specialists. What we mean by that is most Olympic athletes spend years—sometimes their entire lives—training for an event in a specific genre. They specialize in that event, seeking to become the best they can be, and they don’t focus much on developing other strengths that they are less talented at.

In a way, adult stem cells are like these Olympic athletes. They are very good and useful, but only for a very specific, specialized thing. For example, muscle stem cells are going to be best at reproducing muscle, rather than restoring the immune system.

The types of stem cells found in cord blood and tissue that is harvested at birth are the opposite. They are generalists, meaning they are good at treating a variety of things, because they have yet to mature to the place where they become specialized. This is similar to a young athlete who knows they want to compete in the Olympics, but is just getting started with their training and aren’t sure what they want to specialize in yet.

At CariCord, we focus on the generalist stem cells found in umbilical cord blood and tissue, because we know that if these cells are harvested, processed, and stored in our secure cord blood bank, they can potentially be used to cure a variety of diseases and even save lives later on. This advantage is huge, and the window of time at birth is short. If you don’t choose cord blood banking for your child’s cells at birth, you can still utilize the cells later on in life when they are needed, but they will be specialized adult stem cells at that point. Like an Olympic athlete, they will be good and effective, but only at certain niche things. Though the University of Colorado Cord Blood Bank can pull from thousands of donors as potential matches, the odds of finding just the right cells are not nearly as high as they are if you choose private umbilical cord blood banking through CariCord at the birth of your child.

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