Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cell research conducted by doctors, scientists, and medical technicians on cord blood stem cells which have been harvested from the blood that remains in the umbilical cord after a child is born. This research on the umbilical cord blood stem cells is being conducted to discover new methods of treating certain diseases, conditions, and to enhance and improve current medical therapies. Research into umbilical cord blood stem cells been conducted for the past 30 years or so, and researchers often uncovering new potential uses for umbilical cord blood stem cells. Thus far, research into umbilical cord blood stem cells has discovered that they are able to repair tissues by regenerating cells. Umbilical cord blood stem cells can also be transplanted into another person for purposes of treating many childhood issues like leukemia or childhood diabetes.
Research into umbilical cord blood stem cells has already shown excellent results in animal research studies, including situations where cord blood stem cells have improved vascular functions in injured animal tissue, as well as improved blood flow and generally increased heart function.
To conduct the research, the umbilical cord blood must be collected within 10 minutes of the birth. It is best if the amount of cord blood collected is in excess of 75 mL so that there are a sufficient number of stem cells available for testing and for transplantation. If the umbilical cord blood stem cells are not going to be used for research immediately, they can be cryogenically frozen. In this instance, once the research sample is harvested from the umbilical cord, a cryo-preservant is added to the cord blood to allow the cells to be frozen without damage. The cord blood stem cells are frozen slowly so that they are able to survive the freezing process, after which they are stored in a liquid nitrogen tank at –196 Celsius. Cord blood stem cells that are cryogenically frozen in this way have a virtually limitless lifespan, so the stem cells can be unfrozen and used for research days, weeks, or even years later.
Research has discovered that umbilical cord blood stem cells have significant differences when compared with other cells. Umbilical stem cells are “unspecialized” cells and are able to renew themselves by cell division, even after they have been frozen for years. Umbilical cord blood stem cells also have the ability to become tissue- or organ-specific cells, allowing those tissues to recover from illness or disease.
Because of their ability to regenerate, stem cells may give us new methods of treating conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, and research is underway in many other areas of medical science as well.
If you want to store your baby’s cord blood, or if you want to become a cord blood donor, you will need to make this decision well in advance of your date for delivery. It is best to let your doctor know by your 34th week so that they can help make any arrangements with a cord blood banking organization. Prior to birth you will need to complete a health history questionnaire, and provide a blood sample to check for disease. In most situations, you will also be required to sign a sign a consent form to confirm your intention to have the cord blood collected.