Science driving advancements

Future Potential of Cord Blood

Research is growing around the use of cord blood stem cells. Currently there are phase I and II clinical trials in the area of regenerative medicine. Many of these studies require the use of an autologous source of stem cells.20,41 Autologous cells are most likely preferred because of the safety concerns related to host rejection with allogeneic units, and autologous stem cells are perfectly designed to repair host’s own tissue. Current emerging research involving the use of autologous cord blood includes: 

  1. Type 1 Diabetes 32
  2. Cerebral Palsy 28,29
  3. Traumatic Brain Injury
  4. Autism

Because many clinical trials currently require the use of autologous stem cells, family banking is the only way to ensure access to this emerging research.

Future Potential of Cord Tissue

Nearly all of the newborn stem cell transplants performed to date have been performed with the use of cord blood-derived HSCs. However, preclinical research being performed with cord tissue derived MSCs shows promise and may provide therapeutic options in the future.* Potential applications for cord tissue–derived mesenchymal stem cells in the area of regenerative medicine are still in early research stages. However, the ability of these cells to differentiate into a wide range of cell types (including neurons, endocrine cells, cartilage, bone, hepatocytes, fibroblasts, and others) has been the motivation for numerous pre-clinical studies on therapies for a number of disorders, including: 

  1. Parkinson's Disease 20
  2. Rheumatoid Arthritis 21
  3. Stroke 22
  4. Type 1 Diabetes 23
  5. Liver Fibrosis 24
  6. Lung Cancer 25
  7. Sports Injuries (cartilage damage) 26

*All preclinical research was conducted with treatment ready cord tissue.

Combining Cord Blood and Cord Tissue

Recent evidence from preclinical trials suggests mesenchymal stem cells may help induce improved engraftment when combined with HSCs in traditional transplants, helping to overcome some limitations of cord blood HSCTs. Taghizadeh and colleagues conducted a pilot study examining the effect of cord blood mesenchymal stem cells when cotransplanted with cord blood HSCs in reconstituting the hematopoietic system in nude, immunodeficient mice subjected to gamma irradiation to ablate all bone marrow function. The mice then received an intravenous infusion of diluent (as a negative control), human cord blood stem cells (mononuclear cells), or human cord blood stem cells plus human mesenchymal stem cells. Mice were assessed at 8 weeks; bone marrow cells were isolated and evaluated using fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) to assess the degree of human cell engraftment, which was measured by the percentage of human cells bearing the CD45+ marker.7

03_CBandCT_CombinedHealingPower

This graph illustrates the percentage of CD45+ cells in bone marrow 8 weeks after the mice received one of the transplant options. As shown here, the cotransplantation of human cord tissue–derived mesenchymal stem cells improved the engraftment of human cord blood–derived HSCs by up to sixfold.7