Think of stem cells as the building blocks of the human body because they have the ability to transform into different types of cells. It is their power to create and regenerate organs, blood, tissue, and the immune system that make them so important.

Stem cells can be found throughout the body – in your bone marrow, or fatty tissue, for instance. These can and have been used in treating illnesses, but it’s the younger, more flexible stem cells that are found in your newborn baby’s umbilical cord blood and tissue that offer your child advanced scientific opportunities for health. They can be collected and stored at birth in a painless, non-invasive procedure and then stored for future use. If your child ever has a health issue that requires treatment with stem cells, they will be readily available as a treatment option.

Using stem cells to treat disease

The unique ability of stem cells to differentiate into different types of cells make them important in medical therapies. Stem cell transplantation, using stem cells from sources such as bone marrow, has been used in medical procedures for more than 50 years, with more than 1 million blood stem cell transplants across the world playing an important role in the treatment of bone marrow failures, blood cancers, blood disorders, metabolic diseases, immune deficiencies and autoimmune diseases.

 

Since 1998[i], more than 35 000 cord blood transplants have been performed worldwide. Blood forming stem cells from umbilical cord blood are used to treat or cure more than 80 serious diseases, including conditions like leukaemia, lymphoma and osteoporosis. To date, these include[ii]:

 

LEUKAEMIA & LYMPHOMAS

·       Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

·       Acute myelogenous leukaemia

·       Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia

·       Chronic myelogenous leukaemia

·       Hodgkin lymphoma

·       Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

·       Juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia

SEVERE APLASTIC ANAEMIA AND OTHER MARROW FAILURE STATES

A group of disorders that result in the failure of normal functioning of cells in the bone marrow

  • Amegakaryocytosis/congenital thrombocytopenia
  • Fanconi anaemia
  • Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria(PNH)
  • Pure red cell aplasia
  • Severe aplastic anaemia
AUTO-IMMUNE DISEASES

Diseases where your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake.

 

 

SCID AND OTHER INHERITED IMMUNE DEFICIENCIES

Diseases in which children are born without an immune system or with an incomplete immune system

  • Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID, all sub-types)
  • Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome
BLOOD DISORDERS

Genetic defects that result in abnormal structure of one of the globin chains of the haemoglobin molecule that is responsible for carrying of oxygen in the blood.

·       Beta thalassemia

·       Sickle cell disease

HURLER’S SYNDROME AND OTHER INHERITED METABOLIC DISORDERS

A group of inherited diseases in which the lack of an enzyme affects various organs and tissues, including the brain. Enzymes are proteins that play many roles, including metabolising (breaking down) substances in the body

·       Adrenoleukodystrophy

·       Hurler’s syndrome (MPS-IH)

·       Metachromatic leukodystrophy

 

Cord blood stem cell research in non-haematological disorders

Clinical trials where children use their own (autologous) cord blood stem cells[iii]

 

Diagnosis Trial stage Trial registry
Acquired Hearing Loss phase 1 NCT01343394
NCT02038972
Autism phase 2
phase 1
NCT01638819
NCT02176317
India
Cerebral Palsy phase 2 NCT01147653
NCT01072370
NCT01988584
Japan
Cerebral Palsy phase 1 Romania
Slovakia
Spain
Encephalopathy (neonatal) phase 1 UMIN000014903
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) phase 1 NCT01445041
NCT01856049
NCT01883076
Neonatal Oxygen Deprivation phase 1 NCT00593242
NCT01506258
NCT01649648
Japan
(pre-/peri-natal) Stroke phase 1 NCT02460484
Traumatic Brain Injury phase 1 NCT01251003
NCT01700166
Type 1 Diabetes phase 1 & 2

phase 0

NCT00989547
NCT00873925
CoRD
ACTRN12613000186752

 

 

Clinical trials using donor (allogeneic, includes siblings) cord blood stem cells[iv]

 

Diagnosis Trial stage Trial registry
Alzheimer’s Disease phase 1/2 NCT02054208
Autism phase 2 NCT02847182
Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia phase 1/2
phase 2
NCT02381366
NCT01897987
Cartilage Repair Approved by
Korean FDA
(Cartistem)
NCT01733186
Cerebral Palsy phase 2 NCT01193660
NCT01528436
NCT01639404
NCT01991145
NCT02025972
Cerebral Palsy phase 1 NCT02599207
ACTRN12616000403437
Israel
Russia
Critical Limb Ischemia phase 1 NCT01019681
KCT0000194
Global development delay
(both autologous and allogeneic)
phase 1 NCT01769716
Graft versus Host Disease (GvHD) phase 1/2 KCT0000389
HIV phase 1 NCT02140944
Spain
Infertility phase 1 ChiCTR-OPC-14005553
NCT02313415
Intraventricular hemorrhage phase 1 NCT02274428
Liver Cirrhosis unknown ChiCTR-TRC-14004411
Neurodegenerative disorders phase 1 NCT02236065
Stroke phase 1 NCT01673932
NCT02397018
NCT02433509
Sweat gland regeneration unknown NCT02304562
Type 1 Diabetes phase 2 NCT01350219
NCT01996228

Future treatments on the horizon

As medical science continues its research into stem cells and their flexibility, the list of possible treatments grows. Recent research into the stem cells found in cord tissue has shown potential in regenerative medicine. These cells, also known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), can transform into many types of cells and tissues, including organs, muscles, skin and bone. Trials are underway that look into using stem cell therapies with MSC to potentially treat autism, cerebral palsy, diabetes, spinal injuries and many others. For up to date information about new developments in stem cell research, visit https://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/diseases#trial

[i] http://www.cordbloodawareness.org/history_cord_blood_banking.htm

[ii] https://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/diseases

[iii] http://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/trials

[iv] http://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/trials

  1. Policy Statement. Cord Blood Banking for Potential Future Transplantation. PEDIATRICS Volume 119, Number 1, January 2007.
  2. National Cord Blood Program. Cord blood can save lives. http://www.nationalcordbloodprogram.org/. © 2015 National Cord Blood Program.
  3. Moise K Jr. Umbilical cord stem cells. Obstet Gynecol. 2005;106(6):1393-1407.