September 29, 2014

What makes umbilical cord blood special? In the most simple of terms, cord blood can save lives. 

Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells, which are used in the treatment and potential cures of more than 80 diseases and disorders. But how is this done and what is stem cell research’s role in the preservation of cord blood?

The human body is made up of trillions of cells. In a healthy person, the cells throughout your body are constantly and continuously breaking down, rebuilding and growing new cells. This is a natural, normal and necessary function for the health and growth of your body. All the different types of cells in your body, which number in the hundreds, have a specific function. The cells that make up your skin, when replicated, will always be new skin cells. Just like the cells in your brain will always be replaced by brain cells, the cells of the liver with new liver cells, and so on. They all have a definite and exact purpose.

But what make stem cells so unique is that do not have a specific function like the other cells. They are unspecialized, almost like a blank canvas, ready to take on whatever form they are directed to take. This is why they are so valuable in the field of medicine when it comes to treating diseases and injuries. They can regrow into whatever type of cell the body needs them to become. 

When a person is diagnosed with a disease, it is because the cells of a particular area are damaged. For example, in a person diagnosed with a leukemia, the white blood cells are diseased, or mutated, which causes them to grow rapidly and prevent the bone marrow from making the healthy white and red blood cells and platelets that the body needs to survive and fight infections. Treating this disease is done in two parts; first is chemotherapy to kill the diseased cells, followed by a stem cell transplant to regrow and replace the blood cells that were destroyed in the treatment. Unfortunately, with chemotherapy, all the treated cells are destroyed – both the diseased ones and the healthy cells. This is why those cells must be replaced. Without these new, healthy cells being transplanted, your body would be unable to replace the blood and bone marrow that was destroyed. 

This is just one example of how stem cells are used in a treatment. Their uses are incredibly vast and because the cells are “smart,” they have the ability to seek out damaged cells and help to repair them. This allows medical professionals many options when it comes to treating diseases – options that may not have been available to patients in the not-so-distant past. Stem cell research is relatively new in the field of medicine, but the value contained in these tiny, diverse cells has radically changed the landscape in the field. And the future is looking great! As for the scope of its potential, that is yet to be completely known as new and exciting discoveries are continuously emerging. CariCord is excited to be a part of this innovative future and cares about ensuring your family will have access to this growing potential. Cord blood banking is a wise investment to make for your child and your family to allow them the opportunity for a healthier future.

 

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