March 16, 2015

Add regenerative medicine to the long list of reasons to choose cord blood banking for your newborn child. Umbilical cord blood has shown pronounced promise and proven results as a source of stem cells in regenerative medicine. The renewal properties found in stem cells, especially those in cord blood and cord tissue, are effective in re-growing cells that have been damaged due to tissue injury or disease. Common applications being intensely studied for this type of treatment are wound and bone repair, stroke, spinal cord injuries and other conditions requiring regenerative intervention.

Accidents and surprise diagnoses can happen to any family without warning. Do what you can to protect your family by storing your baby’s cord blood at birth. Cord blood banking provides another option when it comes to treatments and progressing the healing process.

Currently, there are FDA-regulated regenerative stem cell medicine clinical trials focusing on finding treatments to cure or improve the effects of autism, cerebral palsy, pediatric stroke, traumatic brain injury, and acquired hearing loss. Some of these trials utilize cord blood stem cells specifically, while some studies use stem cells that are similar to those found in umbilical cord blood. Many people, from sufferers of the diseases, medical professionals and researchers, are all eagerly awaiting the findings of these on-going trials. Their success could result in life-changing treatment options for those afflicted with the conditions, as well as their family members and caregivers.

Another form of regenerative medicine that has shown success is that involving repair to damaged eyes. In a trial that sought to repair damaged retinas in a group of mice using umbilical cord blood stem cells, researchers had to get creative. Pediatric oncologist and Johns Hopkins cell engineering investigator, Elias Zambidis, and a team from the Wilmer Eye Institute, developed a method of extracting vascular tissue created from umbilical cord blood cells, which was to be injected into the mice1.

To create the vascular tissue from cord blood cells, Zambidis and his team took a different approach from the typical virus method, to invoke the stem cell transformation. Their process consisted of gene delivery using plasmids to transform the umbilical cord blood into a state similar to that of an almost week-old embryonic stem cell. Tissue abundant in blood vessels was needed to repair the eyes of the mice. The research team obtained this vascular tissue by separating the necessary, newly-created vascular stem cells and removing them from the sample.

The collaborative effort was concluded by injecting each of the mice in one of three locations on their body with the newly-formed vascular tissue. Regardless of where a particular mouse was injected with the tissue – in this case that meant either in the eye, sinus cavity or the tail – the team found that the tissue cells quickly went to work, successfully navigating to the needed area to repair the mice’s damaged retinas.

Zambidis attributed the success of the experiment to the plasticity of the blood, which allowed it to be transformed into the retinal tissue that was needed for the eye repair. This same process, he says, could provide insight and clues to how cancers of the blood initially form. Additional regenerative medicine studies are underway in an effort to provide safe treatment options.

  • Bhutto, Imran (2014, January) Blood Cells Transformed to Repair Damaged Retina. Promise and Progress. Pg. 28. Retrieved from
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