December 15, 2014

Cord blood banking is not just for families with medical histories of genetic illnesses or diseases. One stem cell therapy currently being used and more thoroughly studied is a treatment for something that everyone is at risk for – injury. No matter what your age, health or fitness level, accidents happen. Almost everyone is in danger of experiencing some type of injury at some point in their lives. 

One of the toughest types of physical injury to overcome is one that leaves serious damage to cartilage. That’s because cartilage, which is a highly specialized type of connective tissue, has a decreased regenerative ability on its own as compared to other types of tissue in the body. So, damage to the cartilage, whether it be due to inflammation, trauma/injury, degeneration, or age-related causes, is more likely to become a chronic and increasingly deteriorating condition without outside intervention, leading to the need for joint replacement surgeries. 

Because of this, researchers are investigating the use of cord blood stem cells as a tool in the treatment of these types of cartilage injuries, and even studying whether it can be used to prevent further injuries and/or the need for replacement surgery, in injured and aging patients. 

Cord blood stem cells harness several abilities that make them a preferred treatment source including their ability to morph into different types of cells, including cartilage cells. Additionally researchers hope that their ability to seek out damaged cells and navigate to where they are needed and are less likely to be rejected by the body, (compared to other sources of stem cells) make them promising as treatment options. 

A recent study1 focused on articular cartilage in particular, which is the tough, protective tissue covering the ends of bones. Injuries and tears of this type of tissue are especially common in the knees, most often requiring surgery to repair the damage. An alternative to surgery being studied is the injection of mesenchymal stem cells and platelet rich plasma into the damaged area, which prompts the regeneration and continued care of the damaged articular cartilage. There is a high success rate in using this type of cord blood stem cell therapy, as well as allowing the patient to avoid the long recovery and painful side effects associated with a major surgery.

Umbilical cord banking is a wise option many parents are choosing for their newborn, regardless of the medical history of the family, because they recognize that the uses of stem cells in the field of medicine is a growing and more treatments are becoming available all the time.

 

  • Mesenchymal stem cells as a potent cell source for articular cartilage regeneration. Mohamadreza Baghaban Eslaminejad and Elham Malakooty Poor. World J Stem Cells. Jul 26, 2014; 6(3): 344–354. doi:  10.4252/wjsc.v6.i3.344. Published online Jul 26, 2014. Found online http://goo.gl/DBFNSl
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