Stem cells have gained huge popularity over the years. They have high regenerative properties and can treat 80+ medical conditions. Leukaemia, anaemia, sickle cell, thalassemia, lymphomas etc. are some of the conditions which are currently being treated using stem cells. It is important to note that, at least once in a lifetime, there is a high chance that your baby or one of the family members can get diagnosed with one of the life-threatening diseases. By preserving stem cells, there is a high probability that it can be used for treating these life-threatening medical conditions.
These regenerative properties of stem cells have made more people to preserve their baby’s umbilical cord stem cells in a stem cell bank. Does this mean, you go to a bank and deposit them like a normal transaction? NO!
Read on to know what are stem cells, sources from which stem cells can be obtained and how to bank these precious life-saving cells.
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells act as the master cells that have the potential and unique ability to transform into specialized cells. They can transform into blood cells, brain cells, muscle cells, bone cells and so on.
Different Types of Stem Cells:
There are several types of stem cells. They are derived majorly from three sources in the human body. Recently, scientists have also discovered another kind of stem cells too, namely Induced pluripotent stem cells. (iPSCs)
1) Embryonic stem cells:
These stem cells are derived from the embryo which is three to five days old. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent i.e. they can divide into more stem cells or become any other specialized cell in the body.
2) Adult stem cells
Adult stem cells are present in many organs and tissues like bone marrow, muscle, brain cells etc. These cells are found in small quantities and have a limited ability to become specialized cells.
3) Umbilical cord stem cells
Blood-derived from the umbilical cord at the time of childbirth is the source of haematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells. This cord blood acts as a rich source of stem cells.
Deriving these stem cells from the umbilical cord is easy, painless and safe for both mother & child.
4) Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs):
Scientists have been able to genetically modify adult stem cells into pluripotent stem cells. These cells are called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) or reprogrammed stem cells. iPSCs are created once scientists genetically re-program adult stem cells to behave like pluripotent embryonic stem cells. They can be differentiated into all kinds of specialized cells in the human body.
What Are The Uses of Stem Cells?
Stem cells have the ability to turn into different kinds of cells which makes them useful for doctors & researchers for treating more diseases.
Stem cells are used:
- To understand how diseases occur
- To replace diseased cells and generate healthy cells in the field of regenerative medicine
- To test new drugs for safety, effectiveness & toxic effects, if any, because of a particular drug
- To study genetic disorders that arise in the human body
- To know how certain cells turn into cancerous cells
- To find effective treatments via stem cell therapy to treat cancers
- To test new medical treatments in large numbers reducing the need for animal testing
What Is The Latest Research In The Field of Stem Cells?
Currently, stem cell transplants are approved for the treatment of 80+ medical conditions. Stem cell research shows promising applications in the field of medicine.
Stem cell research has been largely conducted to improve the treatment of cancers. The most widely used stem cell therapy is in the field of bone marrow transplantation. The blood-forming stem cells were first identified in bone marrow & used worldwide to treat people suffering from blood cancers such as leukaemia.
Stem cells have increasingly played a pivotal role in treating motor symptoms caused by Parkinson’s disease. About 500+ clinical trials are currently underway that use stem cells to treat medical conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy, stroke, diabetes, SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency), aplastic anaemia and more.
The main goal of stem cell research is to get a better understanding of the genetic & molecular aspects in the human body, collect disease-related information & suggest new stem cell related strategies for therapy.
What Is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cell therapy, the most common feature of regenerative medicine, uses stem cells instead of donor organs. Scientists & Doctors aid the repair of diseased, dysfunctional or injured tissues in the human body with stem cells. Scientists grow these cells in the laboratory & manipulate them into specialized cells such as blood cells, nerve cells and many more, relevant to the medical condition.
Ongoing research throws light on how adult bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells are guided to become heart-like cells. These cells can repair heart tissues. More research is being conducted in this field in the form of clinical trials.
Umbilical cord stem cells have garnered a lot of attention in the recent past due to its many promising benefits & advantages over adult stem cells. Stem-cell rich umbilical cord blood cells have lower rejection rates compared to bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells.
This is because the stem cells from umbilical cord blood lack certain features that are attacked or rejected by the receiver’s immune system. This makes the umbilical cord blood stem cells the most potent and promising option for transplant therapies.
You can store your baby’s cord blood stem cells via umbilical cord stem cell banking with a stem cell bank.
What is Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Banking?
Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Banking, also known as Cord blood banking or Cord banking is the process of storing your newborn’s cord blood cells in a repository. There are three main types of banks that store your baby’s cord blood cells at the time of birth.
1) Public Cord Blood Bank:
Public cord blood banks collect cord blood donations from healthy pregnancies. They store these stem cells & make it available to any person in case they need them to save a life through stem cell transplant. The only public bank in India currently has about 6000+ stem cell units with them & has stopped accepting any more samples due to lack of funding.
2) Private Cord Blood Bank:
In private cord blood banking, the baby’s umbilical cord stem cells can be used in the future to protect the baby or other family members. Private banking is highly recommended when there is an existing family member (sibling or biological parents only) suffering from a condition approved to be treated with stem cell transplantation like leukaemia, hemoglobinopathy, bone marrow failure, etc.
3) Community Cord Blood Bank:
In community stem cell banking, the stem cells of the baby preserved by parents at the time of birth, not only protects the baby but the entire family including the siblings, parents, paternal and maternal grandparents. Community stem banking members can access the pool of stem cells from various donors who are also part of the same banking program.
Community banking does not have the limitations which are posed with public or private banking. It offers the best of both worlds.
How is Community Stem Cell Banking better than Public or Private Banks?
The Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP), the largest association of the medical professionals, has agreed to the limitations that come with private banking. As mentioned earlier, public banking is a not feasible model due to lack of funds to maintain it & availability of a limited number of samples.
Community stem cell banking is the way forward since the entire family can have access to the pool of stem cells with the provider. This substantially increases the chance of finding matching donor cells, in case of stem cell transplantation.
Why should you consider storing your baby’s stem cells?
Community stem cell banking program allows parents to get access to matching umbilical cord blood stem cells for treatments that require donor stem cells. Preserving your baby’s umbilical cord blood stem cells allows your baby & entire family to be treated for all conditions treatable by stem cells.
By storing your baby’s precious umbilical cord blood stem cells with LifeCell’s Community Banking program, you can enjoy the following benefits:
- Higher match probability: >96% of finding a matching donor stem cell since community banking allows access to stem cells only to the people who have enrolled.
- Largest inventory: Currently, with more than 25,000 qualified samples and growing every year, community banking gives the possibility of finding a donor cell of India origin.
- Low cost: Community banking program allows unlimited withdrawal of samples at no additional cost in case of a stem cell transplant.
- Complete protection to the family: Under the community banking program, not only will your baby be able to access the pool of stem cells, the parents, siblings, maternal & paternal grandparents can withdraw stem cells from the pool.
LifeCell is India’s first & largest community stem cell bank in India. It is the only company in India providing dual storage facilities in Chennai & Gurugram. In addition to the above-mentioned benefits, LifeCell provides a host of advantages to its community banking members.
Still have questions about stem cell banking? Let our LifeCell experts help you make the right decision at the comfort of your home. Call 1800-266-5533 or SMS ‘LIFECELL’ to 53456!
Sign up & book an appointment today. Preserve your baby’s umbilical cord blood cells at the time of birth and pave way for a healthy future!