January 09, 2015

It is widely known that human stem cells and their use in many cell-based therapies, has helped to change the medical landscape over the past several decades. The stem cells are derived mostly from three sources: bone marrow, lab-created embryonic cells, and umbilical cord blood and/or cord lining. The stem cells’ ability to differentiate into the type of organ, bone or tissue cell that is needed by the body to promote healing and growth of new healthy cells has proven vital in the treatment of many diseases and disorders. In fact, more than 80 diseases are now treatable and even curable through the use of stem cell therapy.

The long journey to get to where we are today – to the point where stem cells are considered a safe, highly effective, and in many cases, routine form of treatment – required many, many decades of study and an incredible amount of dedicated researchers who saw, and still see, the vast potential in these powerful, resilient cells. They study, hypothesize, test, record, analyze, verify, and then test some more, all in an effort to advance the field of medicine and provide patients with the best and most effective forms of treatments available.

It is interesting to note that stem cells have another role in the advancement of medicine in addition to their use in stem cell transplants. Researchers can also use stem cells (such as donated cord blood) to test the safety and efficacy of new drugs and medicines in their early phases of creation. They take differentiated stem cells and use them to test the new drugs. Since the stem cells can differentiate into almost any type of cell, researchers can control the specifics of the cells into the type they need for their experiments. For example, they can test new anti-tumor medicines on whatever type of tissue they are trying to treat at the time. Once it is proven to work on the cellular level, then they can begin to experiment on a larger scale, eventually moving to animal and human trials if their treatments show evidence of success.

Cord blood banking is an integral part of the stem cell research community and treatment process. Cord blood stem cells are the preferred source of stem cells, in many disease treatment therapies. As treatments with stem cells are increasingly becoming widely known, more and more families are choosing to store their baby’s umbilical cord blood at birth. By doing this, the parents are giving their child options. With cord blood banking, they are providing their child the resources (perfectly genetically matched stem cells) that they might need for the best chance at a healthy future.

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