How Is Cord Blood Used Today?
Cord blood has been used in transplant medicine for nearly 30 years and can be used in the treatment of nearly 80 diseases and is also being used in clinical trials for regenerative medicine.
Who can use the cord blood you save for your family?
There is often confusion over who can use cord blood stem cells in treatment — the baby they were collected from or a sibling? The short answer is both, but it very much depends on the condition being treated. And it's ultimately the treating physician's decision.
Cord Blood Use In Transplant Medicine
Cord blood contains many types of stem cells, but the primary type of stem cell it contains is Hematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs). HSCs are “blood forming” cells responsible for the development and maintenance of our blood and immune system and can turn into three types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. When used in a transplant, cord blood stem cells help ‘rebuild’ a healthy blood and immune system in the patient.
Advantages of Cord Blood in Transplant Medicine
One advantage of using cord blood stem cells in transplant, versus other sources of stem cells like bone marrow, is that cord blood stem cells are readily available and easily accessible at the time of birth. Another advantage of using cord blood is that, because the stem cells are collected moments after birth, the cells are young and haven’t been exposed to other elements like disease or aging.
History of Cord Blood Use in Transplants
The first cord blood transplant was performed in 1988 in a 5-year-old boy. Over the last 30 years, the use of cord blood stem cells in transplant medicine has grown exponentially. Over 40,000 cord blood stem cell transplants have been performed worldwide.
Nearly 80 Conditions Using Cord Blood
As of today, the use of cord blood has proven to be effective in helping treat nearly 80 conditions including: cancers, blood disorders, bone marrow failure syndromes, metabolic disorders, and immune disorders. Most of the diseases on the proven treatment list are inherited genetic diseases.
See the list of nearly 80 conditions that can use cord blood today
Typically, a child with a genetic disease would require cord blood unit from a sibling or an unrelated donor. Having a sibling cord blood unit can be a great advantage as research shows that treatments using cord blood from a family member are about twice as successful as treatments using cord blood from a non-relative.9a, 17
In transplants, cord blood units banked by ViaCord have a great track record with the highest published transplant success rate in Family Banking - 88% at 1 year. 9b
Cord Blood Use For Your Baby
Regenerative Medicine & Proven Treatments
Recently we've seen many children use their own cord blood in a new area known as regenerative medicine in clinical research trials for conditions like autism and cerebral palsy. 104, 109 There are some diseases on the list (like neuroblastoma cancer) where a child could use his or her own cord blood. However, most of the diseases on the proven treatment list are inherited genetic diseases. Typically, a child with a genetic disease would require a cord blood unit from a sibling or an unrelated donor.
Learn more about cord blood use in regenerative medicine research
What about cord tissue?
Cord tissue is not quite ready for prime time yet, but excitement is growing around its potential
Excitement about cord tissue's potential to help conditions affecting cartilage, muscle and nerve cells continues to grow.19 Researchers are focusing on a wide range of potential treatment areas, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, liver fibrosis, lung cancer, and sports injuries. Since 2007 there have been 150 clinical trials using cord tissue stem cells.
There is a high likelihood that immediate biological family members could benefit from the baby’s cord tissue stem cells, with parents having a 100% likelihood of being compatible, siblings having a 75% likelihood of being compatible, and grandparents having a 25% likelihood of being compatible.16,50 Another reason why parents today are choosing to bank their baby's cord tissue for the future.
Learn more about ongoing research using cord tissue