How Newborn Stem Cells Work

Stem cells are the basic building blocks of life. They are found in the  body’s organs, tissues, blood, and immune system and have the ability to regenerate into additional stem cells or differentiate into specialized cells, such as nerve or blood cells. This remarkable ability makes them invaluable in medical treatments. When transplanted into a patient’s body, stem cells can repair or replace the patient’s damaged or diseased cells, improving the patient’s health and, in many cases, saving the patient’s life.

The umbilical cord: Nurturing life after pregnancy.

Throughout pregnancy, the umbilical cord functions as the lifeline between mom and baby, carrying nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood from the placenta to the developing baby via the umbilical vein. The baby, in turn, pumps nutrient-depleted, deoxygenated blood back to the placenta through the umbilical arteries. The cord tissue surrounding the umbilical vein and arteries acts like a cushion, preventing twisting and compression to ensure the cord blood flow remains steady and constant. 

The umbilical cord is a rich source of two main types of stem cells: cord blood stem cells and cord tissue stem cells. Through the science of cord banking, both cord blood and cord tissue stem cells can help nurture life, long after a baby’s birth.

Flexible & accessible: A win-win for umbilical cord stem cells.

Umbilical cord stem cells share a special property that sets them apart from adult bone marrow stem cells: flexibility. This special property enables them to more easily adapt to a patient’s body during transplant. As a result, a patient’s body is less likely to reject the cells, increasing the chances for a successful outcome. 

Another benefit of cord stem cells is their easy accessibility. Collecting umbilical cord stem cells is a straightforward, quick, and painless procedure for both mom and baby. Collecting bone marrow stem cells, on the other hand, involves a more complex surgical procedure that can put the bone marrow donor at risk for medical complications.

Exploring the scientific possibilities.

The therapeutic potential of cord stem cells is vast. Although these cells are already used in the treatment of nearly 80 life-threatening diseases,2 researchers continue to explore their treatment potential. To learn more about ongoing advanced- and early-stage research on potential cord blood and cord tissue therapies, visit our Treatments & Research section