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Origins of Cord Blood Collection and where it is going to take us in the future

Posted Nov 21 2008 4:34pm

After successful meeting of the sperm and the ovum (female egg), there will be the conception. In other words, fertilization is the result of penetration of the oocyte that the sperm performs. The fusion of the ovum and sperm shapes up a tiny living jelly like structure that later turns into embryo and then infant. During pregnancy, developing embryo gets nourishment through the placenta, a bag full of the blood. The placenta supplies ‘cord blood’ to the embryo through the umbilical cord. Traditionally, at the time of delivery, this cord was being cut-off and clipped at baby’s side and rest of the portion was being discarded.

With the help of latest technology and betterment in medical science, researches revealed that the ‘cord blood’ contains very unique and special cells called as ‘stem cells’. These stem cells are building blocks of every type of the cells in the human body. If this blood is collected and stored, in future, it can be very useful treating various diseases in a significant way.

The cord blood can be collected both; at vaginal delivery and/or in connection with the operation (cesarean section) 1. In other words, the cord blood can be collected when the infant is being delivered and has been safely resting onto your hands. The cord blood is then collected from the remaining of the umbilical cord that was typically been discarded in yesteryears. The blood is collected in a syringe (disposable). The syringe is to be punctured in the umbilical vein soon after the umbilical cord is been clamped, cut and sterilized with some antiseptic solution 2. Cord blood collected after the delivery of the placenta is called as ex utero method. It is the gravity drainage by which the cord blood is collected about 40-150 ml depending upon the requirements.

The future of collecting and using the stem cells is bright and better. The researchers at the University of Minnesota foretold that they were able to markedly reverse the case of the stroke in rats in the laboratory. Amazingly, the stem cells used in the treatment were from the human umbilical cord blood. Furthermore, in one research conducted by neurologists showed that the transplanted stem cells took-over the properties of the brain cells and then incited the brain of the rat to rewire.

Currently, the scientists are continuously trying to find that stem cells from the blood of umbilical cord that are considered to be capable of turning into blood cells might be able to grow into other kind of cells in future as well if treated properly. The scientists all across the world are optimistic about collecting and using the stem cells treating even the stubborn diseases. Many experiments are going on to prove efficacy of the stem cells to cure life-threatening conditions in human beings those, till date, are difficult to tackle with any therapy or medications.

The ultimate aim is to discover such a great medical revolution wherein ailing organs and/or cells of the human beings might be repaired or replaced but not with the help of primitive mechanical devices like titanium joints or insulin pumps but with alive and homegrown substitutes. The stem cells, if worked as expected, would be the dawn of the new epoch in the field of regenerative and genetic medicines and would be one of the most Sangraals of the modern medical science.

Cord blood banking would be potential for future transplantation since the human umbilical cord blood that contains an ample source of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells has been greatly used as an alternative allogeneic donor source treating various pediatric genetic, cancerous, immunological and hematological disorders and have favorable results.

Cord blood would be the insurance against many future diseases and probably we would be able to cure them those are currently annoying the mankind and the medical science has no answer for the same. This hope was further supported by Roger and colleagues who published their study in Best Practice and Research in Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology 3. In report, it was said; “Currently, the number of these specialized cells capable of undergoing the differentiation process into non-hematopoietic cells is low and remains a block to the clinical development of umbilical cord stem cells for non-hematopoietic cell therapy. Further research will allow us to overcome these hurdles. This expanded potential for umbilical cord stem cells might replace embryonic stem cells and other fetal cells for some cell and tissue therapies”

Cord blood would be then something like preserving the lifeline. Looking at the popularity and potentiality, there are many cord blood banks being established within a very short period and the figure is still going high. The time has witnessed that technology has never flinched and there has been always advancement and we have discovered newer things better than before. Today, we are able to collect the stem cells from the human umbilical cord blood but we still lack of some researches and hence, that makes utilization of the stem cells still limited.

In future, there is no wonder that we find some advanced techniques that would make us capable to gain the maximum benefits out of the stem cells and disease such as cancers, hemoglobinopathy, degenerative changes in the cells, necrosis, ischemia and decalcification would be easy to tackle and we would be able to solve them more effectively without any side or harmful effects. Some optimistic scientists also do not deny that in future, using the stem cells from the human umbilical cord blood, we would be able to clone. The genetic science is on its peak and the biotechnology is skyrocketing making every dream possible. To support, the smallpox that had killed an estimated 60 million Europeans in the 18 th century alone, after successful campaigns for vaccination throughout the 19 th and 20 th centuries, was proclaimed as totally eradicated disease by the WHO in the year of1979 4

1. Rygaard and Lindenberg, Acta Obstet Scand 2002:81: 383-388

2. Redigor et al., Experimental Hematology 1999: (27) 380-385

3. Umbilical cord blood stem cells. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gy, 2004; 18(6):893-908

4. WHO - Factsheets

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Tuesday, January 1st, 2008 at 9:30 pm
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