June 23, 2014
When researching cord blood banking, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed with all the information out there. Lots of websites answer many questions when it comes to this topic, from the benefits of umbilical cord blood banking, to the steps to take in order to take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collect this blood. The reasons for cord blood banking are vast and it all comes down to the simple property contained in this cord blood: stem cells.
But what are stem cells and what is stem cell research? How does all this benefit your child or your family?
Stem cells are the most basic building block in the body. They are “unspecialized” and have an extraordinary capability to transform into a number of different types of cells in the body. They have the ability to repair diseased or damaged blood, bone or organ cells by promoting cell growth.
Stem cells have two important characteristics that make them stand out from other cells. For one, they are “generic” cells that, through cells division, have an incredible ability to renew themselves and adjacent cells. Two, they can be manipulated to form into specific tissue or organ cells with the purpose of performing distinctive jobs in the body (such as repair damaged tissue, for example.)
The stem cells found in cord blood are even more unique than those found in bone marrow because they are young and haven’t been exposed to adverse, worldly conditions such as illnesses, and it is, therefore, must easier to achieve the desired results. Cord blood stem cells also are easier to match for a recipient because they do not have to be a perfect match, unlike bone marrow stem cells, which require a perfect match for transplanting.
The field of stem cell research has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several decades. Researchers have been able to find treatments and/or cures for more than 80 diseases so far and there is much promise in the field, to find new cures.
Today, many cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma, and blood disorders, including certain types of anemias, are being treated with stem cells. Stem cells are also being used in research to treat certain neurological occurrences, such as stroke and traumatic brain injury.
These are just a few examples of the many, many treatments available using cord blood stem cells. This field of study is still relatively young and its future is very promising. At CariCord, we are proud to be a part of that promising future.