August 25, 2014

Cord blood stem cells could hold the power to improve and protect kidney function in patients with acute kidney, or renal, failure. Acute renal failure is the result of the kidneys developing a concentration of urine but lacking the ability to remove the waste product. One in 3 Americans are at risk for developing a kidney disease, which leads to renal failure, and, because it often has no symptoms, patients may not even know they have it until it has reached a serious level. Kidney disease kills more than 90,000 people annually, according to The National Kidney Foundation. When the renal failure is caused by injury or trauma, it can prove even more critical for the patient.

Umbilical cord blood, because of its young nature, is ideal in treating immune-mediated diseases (such as kidney disease) because it has not been exposed to disease or illness. In a study looking at the effects human umbilical cord blood had in reducing renal failure in the kidneys of mice when administered as a preventative measure, the results suggest a promising outcome in potential future treatments for human renal injury1. In another study conducted in Italy, doctors found that an infusion of mesenchymal stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood could prove beneficial to kidney-failure patients in their recuperation by speeding up recovery and avoiding long-term kidney complications2. The cord blood stem cells were able to stimulate tissue repair and promote healing in mice.

The study, conducted at the Fondazione Policlinico in Milano, Italy, treated mice suffering from acute kidney failure with a solution of cord blood mesenchymal stem cells. Researchers monitored the blood urea nitrogen levels in the mice both before and after the transplant, and found that the mice who received a stem cell transplant had much lower levels of the waste product. The treated mice also had less renal tissue damage than those not undergoing stem cell transplants.

Researchers noted less severe complications with those mice receiving the cord blood stem cell transplant, which made them hopeful about future treatments on human patients experiencing acute renal failure.

The chances of developing kidney disease increase with age and it is estimated that the risk increases to 1 in 2 over the course of a lifetime, depending on a person’s personal risk factors. By banking your child’s cord blood you are preserving his or her stem cells, making them available to them should they ever develop one of the more than 80 diseases currently treated with stem cell therapy. Future treatments, such as cord blood transfusions to treat kidney disease, are being discovered and studied all the time with encouraging results.

1. Hye Ryoun Jang, Ji Hyeon Park, et. al., Effect of preemptive treatment with human umbilical cord blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells on the development of renal ischemia-reperfusion injury in mice. American Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology. Published August 20, 2014, Vol. no. , DOI: 10.1152/ajprenal.00555.2013 2. Lenner, J., Hope for Acute Kidney Failure Found with Stem Cells. Stem Cell Institute. Published online December 13, 2006. Found online: http://goo.gl/X3cCHc

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