March 27, 2015

Lots of attention in the scientific community is focused on the research advancements being made with cord blood stem cells, with innovations in tissue cell regeneration of particular note. Is it possible that cord blood stem cells are the answer researchers have long been seeking when it comes to finding a suitable alternative for many cell-based therapies?

One specific therapy being studied is the potential held in cord blood stem cells as a bone or connective tissue cell-alternative for bone tissue engineering1. In a study performed by researchers at the Tsurumi University in Japan, rats afflicted with a certain skull abnormality were split up into three groups. The control group was treated with a collagen scaffold containing a conditioned medium, which the other the groups also received, but with the following additions: one group’s scaffold was loaded with modified human umbilical cord blood stem cells, and the other group’s was treated with bone marrow cells, for comparison.

potentiate osteo-genic differentiation

Previous clinical trials have shown that bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells, which have the ability to differentiate into different types of connective tissue such as cartilage, bone and fat cells, can retain that ability when introduced into secondary environments2 via transplants. This procedure has many disadvantages though, including difficulty in finding a perfectly genetically matched donor, which can be a long, even unsuccessful process, as well as the invasiveness of the procedure for those who are willing to donate.

But can cord blood stem cells work as a viable alternative for this bone marrow practice? According to the Tsurumi University study referenced above, the answer, potentially, is yes. At the conclusion of that study, the researchers found approximately the same rate of bone growth in all the rats’ skulls and that neither the cord blood stem cells nor the bone marrow stem cells showed an advantage over the other. This, they hypothesized, showed that cord blood stem cells are a viable alternative to bone marrow transplants for bone tissue engineering and are certain to play a vital role in medical treatments of this type in the future. Clinical trials involving human subjects will follow in the near future.

Cord blood banking is becoming more and more prevalent as its uses are made more commonly known through stem cell research and media outreach. Conscientious parents-to-be are making the wise investment in their child’s future health by choosing the incredible and irreplaceable resource of cord blood banking.

Kajiyama S, Ujiie Y, Nishikawa S, Inoue K, Shirakawa S, Hanada N, Liddell R, Davies, JE, Gomi K. 2015. Bone formation by human umbilical cord perivascular cells. J Biomed Mater Res Part A 2015:00A:000–000.

  • Kajiyama S., et al; 2015. Bone formation by human umbilical cord perivascular cells. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A. Article published Feb. 9, 2015, DOI: 10.1002/jbm.a.35396
  • Estrada-Vallejo, C; Ganns, B; Davies, J E; 2011. Genetically Modified Human Umbilical Cord Perivascular Cells for Bone Tissue Engineering. Orthopaedic Research Society. Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto, Ontario M5S, Canada. Found online
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