cord blood research | how does cord blood transplant work

When a child is born, their umbilical cord is filled with nutrient-rich blood. There are stem cells contained in that blood, along with numerous other potentially beneficial items. It can be used for research purposes, including helping the newborn receive needed treatments should they encounter certain serious diseases in their young life. Banking that cord blood immediately can be the ticket to a bright future for some children.
Families expecting a new baby face hundreds of decisions that will affect their child’s future—like finding the perfect name, figuring how to manage breast or bottle feeding, childcare, and a host of other parenting decisions.
“One of the biggest concerns families have about publicly banking cord blood is: Will it be available to them, if needed? The answer is a little complicated,” Dr. Aghajanian says. “Cord blood donated to a public bank can be pulled for a family of origin.” As long as it is still available, of course.
Generally not. The reason siblings are more likely to match is because they get half of their HLA markers from each parent. Based on the way parents pass on genes, there is a 25 percent chance that two siblings will be a whole match, a 50 percent chance they will be a half match, and a 25 percent chance that they will not be a match at all. It is very rare for a parent to be a match with their own child, and even more rare for a grandparent to be a match.
With public cord blood banks, there’s a greater chance that your cord blood will be put to use because it could be given to any child or adult in need, says William T. Shearer, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Pediatrics and Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Cord blood is donated and is put on a national registry, to be made available for any transplant patient. So if your child should need the cord blood later in life, there’s no guarantee you would be able to get it back.
Tissue typed and listed on the registry of the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program, also called the Be The Match Registry®. (The registry is a listing of potential marrow donors and donated cord blood units. When a patient needs a transplant, the registry is searched to find a matching marrow donor or cord blood unit.)
Cord blood banking is a simple and painless procedure that could save lives. Immediately after birth, cord blood is harvested — or removed from the clamped-off umbilical cord. After that, the blood is frozen and stored (or “banked”) for future use. When stored properly, it’s thought that cord blood can last indefinitely.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends families choose to donate their cord blood to public banks in most cases. Private banking should be considered for family use where there is a full sibling in the family with a condition that could potentially benefit from a transplant as siblings have a 25% chance of being a match.
The stem cells in cord blood can provide numerous benefits, but they are not a magical cure for everything that may happen to a child. Certain genetic conditions, such as MD or spina bifida, cannot be treated through a child’s cord blood because the stem cells would be affected by the same condition. Other cord blood options may be available, but it is important to note that the presence of it is not a guarantee of future wellness.
Private (commercial) cord banks will store the donated blood for use by the donor and family members only. They can be expensive. These banks charge a fee for processing and an annual fee for storage.
Since 1988, cord blood transplants have been used to treat over 80 diseases in hospitals around the world. Inherited blood disorders such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia can be cured by cord blood transplant. Over the past decade, clinical trials have been developing cord blood therapies for conditions that affect brain development in early childhood, such as cerebral palsy and autism.
Cord blood is rich in stem cells, so it can be used to treat a wide range of diseases that may affect a child. The odds that any given child will need their cord blood, however, is only about 1 in 217. For families that do not have a history of sickle cell anemia, lymphoma, or leukemia, the costs of collecting and storing the blood may not make sense and public bank storage may be a better option.
Your own cord blood will always be accessible. This applies only if you pay to store your cord blood at a private bank. The blood is reserved for your own family; nobody else can access or use it, and it will never be allotted to another family or be donated to research. If you donate your cord blood to a public bank, on the other hand, anyone who needs compatible cord blood can have it; there’s no guarantee that it will be available if and when your family needs it.
Cancellations prior to CBR’s storage of the samples(s) are subject to an administrative fee of $150. If you terminate your agreement with CBR after storage of the sample(s), you will not receive a refund.
As noted, there are different ways to process cord blood, and although the type of processing method doesn’t always enter the conversation on cord blood banking, it is a big part of the purity of any cord blood collection. Red blood cells can have a negative impact on a cord blood transfusion. In addition, there is a certain number of stem cells that need to be present in order for the cord blood to be effective in disease treatment. Each processing method has the ability to better reduce the number of RBCs and capture more stem cells. Some processing methods like AutoXpress and Sepax are automated to ensure a level of consistency across all collections. HES is preferred by some banks because it was the original processing method used by most banks and it has a proven track record. You can read more about the different cord blood processing methods here.
Yes, if you have any sick children who could benefit from umbilical cord blood. Public banks such as Carolinas Cord Bank at Duke University and private banks such as FamilyCord in Los Angeles offer programs in which the bank will assist with cord blood processing and storage if your baby has a biological sibling with certain diseases. FamilyCord will provide free cord blood storage for one year. See a list of banks with these programs at parentsguidecordblood.org/help.php.
There is often confusion over who can use cord blood stem cells in treatment — the baby they were collected from or a sibling? The short answer is both, but it very much depends on the condition being treated. And it’s ultimately the treating physician’s decision.
As with any medical procedure, there is never a 100% guarantee that banked cord blood, even if it comes from the patient being treated, will provide a successful outcome. Families can go through the entire cost of banking cord blood, including the massive first-year fee, only to find that the treatment didn’t work as intended. It is not an investment. It is more of an insurance policy.
Unfortunately, delayed cord clamping is not compatible with banking your little one’s cord blood because the success of the treatment heavily relies on the volume of the blood infused with the stem cells. The more blood the greater chance at a successful outcome.
The use of cord blood is determined by the treating physician and is influenced by many factors, including the patient’s medical condition, the characteristics of the sample, and whether the cord blood should come from the patient or an appropriately matched donor. Cord blood has established uses in transplant medicine; however, its use in regenerative medicine is still being researched. There is no guarantee that treatments being studied in the laboratory, clinical trials, or other experimental treatments will be available in the future.
Why should you consider donating the cord blood to a public bank? Simply because, besides bringing a new life into the world, you could be saving an individual whose best chance at life is a stem cell transplant with your baby’s donated cord blood. This can only happen if you donate and if your baby is a close enough match for a patient in need. If you chose to reserve the cord blood for your family, then siblings who have the same parents have a 25% chance of being an exact match.
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It varies. Cord blood banking can be free, or it can cost a few thousand dollars or more. How much you pay will depend on several different factors, like whether your insurance covers the collection process, whether your doctor or midwife charges a collection fee, whether you opt for a public storage bank (which is free) or private storage bank (which can cost a couple thousand dollars or more), or whether there is an existing family medical need (in which case some private banks offer free or discounted storage).
​nbiased and factual information. The Foundation educates parents, health professionals and the general public about the need to preserve this valuable medical resource while providing information on both public cord blood donation programs and private family cord blood banks worldwide. Learn more about our global community.
If you do decide to bank your baby’s cord blood, there’s one more thing to keep in mind: It’s best not to make it a last-minute decision. You should coordinate with the bank before your baby is born so nothing is left to chance.
Most of the diseases on the proven treatment list are inherited genetic diseases. Typically, these treatments require a donor transplant, as from a sibling. In fact, research shows that treatments using cord blood from a family member are about twice as successful as treatments using cord blood from a non-relative.9a, 17 To date, over 400 ViaCord families have used their cord blood 56% were for transplant.1
If you can afford the costs of cord blood banking, then it makes sense to have it done to protect against the “what ifs” of life. If you cannot, you can still potentially help someone in need by making a donation to a public cord blood bank, which is often free and may just have a small collection fee from the hospital. The world of medicine is changing, which is why cord blood banking is so important. Talk to your doctor today to see if it is something you should be doing!
The first cord blood banks were private cord blood banks. In fact, Cryo-Cell is the world’s first private cord blood bank. It wasn’t until later that the government realized the need to preserve cord blood for research and public welfare. As a result, 31 states have adopted a law or have a piece of pending legislation that requires or encourages OBGYNs to educate expectant parents about cord blood banking and many states now have publicly held cord blood banks. As a result, parents have the option of banking their baby’s cord blood privately for the exclusive use of the child and the rest of the family or donating the cord blood to a public bank so that it can be used in research or by any patient who is a match and in need.
If a family is looking to store their baby’s blood, there is a high possibility that the blood won’t be a match for the occurring condition. In that event, the family would have to seek out a donor for a disease that is not successfully treatable by their stored cord blood. Unfortunately for these families, they are investing in a possibility. Many believe this is unethical.





There are two ways to store cord blood: You can donate the blood to a public storage bank, or you can pay for private storage. Both storage types have pros and cons, and the best option for you and your family depends on different factors. Your health care provider can help you weigh the options and make the right choice. This guide can help you create a cord blood registry and gives you a list of the best cord blood banks to choose from.
Cord blood contains mesenchymal stem cells but is much more abundant in hematopoietic stem cells. Cord tissue, on the other hand, contains some hematopoietic stem cells but is much richer in mesenchymal stem cells. Cord tissue, or Wharton’s jelly, is the protective layer that covers the umbilical cord’s vein and other vessels. Its MSCs can become a host of cells including those found in the nervous system, sensory organs, circulatory tissues, skin, bone, cartilage, and more. MSCs are currently undergoing clinical trials for sports injuries, heart and kidney disease, ALS, wound healing and autoimmune disease. As with cord blood, cord tissue is easily collected at the type of birth and holds great potential in regenerative medicine. Learn more about cord tissue banking here.
Cord blood holds promise for future medical procedures. Scientists are still studying more ways to treat more diseases with cord blood. At Duke University, for example, researchers are using patients’ own cord blood in trials for cerebral palsy and Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (a condition in which the brain does not receive enough oxygen). Trials are also under way for the treatment of autism at the Sutter Neuroscience Institute in Sacramento, California.
Cord blood is easier to match than blood stem cells from other parts of the body. Cells from cord blood are also less mature than cells from an adult’s bone marrow, so the recipient’s body is less likely to reject them.
Save by paying in advance for 21 years of storage through our long-term storage plan. This plan covers all the initial fees (collection kit, courier service, processing, and preservation) and the cost of 21 years of continuous storage. A lifetime plan is also available; call for details.
Like most transplants, the stem cells must be a genetic match with the patients to be accepted by the body’s immune system. It goes without saying that a patient’s own cord blood will be a 100% match. The second highest chance of a genetic match comes from siblings.
What stroller should I register for? How will I find a good pediatrician? And will I ever settle on color for the nursery? There are so many things to think about before your baby is born. But here’s one more decision you might want to consider: whether to bank your baby’s cord blood.

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