Umbilical cord stem cells: why store them?

A valuable resource as a source of haematopoietic and mesenchymal stem cells, useful for the treatment of many diseases

While until recently the umbilical cord was simply thrown away as biological waste, today it is a valuable resource as a source of haematopoietic and mesenchymal stem cells, useful for the treatment of many diseases and the subject of thousands of clinical studies and scientific research.

Faced with the peculiar and fundamental characteristics of stem cells in the field of preventive and regenerative medicine, more and more families are concerned with what to do with the umbilical cord of their children. Public and private banks have responded to this need by collecting and storing cord blood and tissue. These institutions allow families to donate (in the case of public banks) or to store for family use (in private banks) the samples taken at the birth of their children.

This is an extremely simple and totally painless procedure and without any risk for either the mother or the child: immediately after the birth and the cutting of the umbilical cord, the medical staff proceeds to collect the cord blood and tissue. These samples are then transported to the bank to determine their suitability for storage, according to high quality standards imposed by national authorities. Once the eligibility of the samples has been established, they are stored at -196°C.

The use of haematopoietic stem cells extracted from cord blood in therapy is now well established. More than 80 diseases are treated with this type of cells, particularly in the case of disorders of the blood or of the immune system. Stem cells extracted from cord tissue, called mesenchymals, are very effective in regenerative medicine due to their ability to form various tissues (bone, muscle, cartilage, etc.) and their anti-inflammatory properties.

Public banks make all the received samples available to the community. Choosing to donate the umbilical cord of your children therefore means making a gesture of solidarity, which can represent hope for many people waiting for a compatible donor.

Preserving the umbilical cord for private and family use is, instead, like a sort of life insurance, on which to rely in the event of arising problems. The family has immediate access and availability on the stored samples, which will certainly be 100% compatible with the child and almost certainly compatible with a sibling or family member.

While supporting any family decision, Nescens Swiss Stem Cell Science believes it is essential to raise community awareness of proper information to facilitate as little waste as possible of an important resource such as cord blood stem cells.

Visit our website or contact us to find out more about the importance of preserving umbilical cord stem cells.