Pregnancy Articles

Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Research

by Hope Ocampo


Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Research

The umbilical cord stem cell research has certainly hit the headlines lately and whether you are considering storing the blood of your newborn baby for your 

family's use or for the purposes of donation it is important that you get a good all round picture of umbilical cord stem cell research what it means to you as well as the rest of the world.

The first thing you should know, and probably already do, is that stem cell research is not as new a phenomenon as you think. A bone marrow transplant is successful because it replaces stem cells within the patient using the stem cells found in the bone marrow from the donor. The morality of embryonic stem cell research does not apply to umbilical cord stem cell research.

Often, discussions of stem cell research break down into an argument regarding the ethical use of embryonic stem cells; it is important to differentiate between embryonic stem cells and umbilical cord stem cells.

The retrieval of embryonic stem cells leads to the destruction of the embryo, however, umbilical cord blood can be taken once the birth is completed and the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut as usual. The birth and mother and baby are unaffected by the procedure making it completely harmless to all concerned. Another important point is that when researchers talk about umbilical cord blood they are referring to blood taken from the placenta, otherwise known as the afterbirth. Again, the extraction of this blood is carried out only once the birth is completed and at a time when the cord and the placenta would normally be disposed of.

History of the use of flexible stem cells + placenta.

Bone marrow transplants have been carried out for more than 30 years and with exceptionally good results but that doesn't mean that the process is faultless. The extraction of bone marrow is a complicated procedure that is intrusive to the donor. The procedure is painful and can result in recovery time stemming over several weeks. Also, there are comparatively few donors willing to donate bone marrow because of this fact.

Most patients who have a bone marrow transplant find that their best chance of finding a donor is through a sibling or other relative. This is because the marrow and the stem cells must be a match with the patient.

A list of criteria is drawn up and the more boxes that can be ticked the greater the match and subsequently the less chance there is that the body will reject the new tissue. Tissue rejection can lead to a worsening of the patient's condition so it is important that marrow transplants only occur when a good match is found.

Why umbilical cord stem cell transplants?

The umbilical cord blood transplants utilize cord blood that is high in primitive stem cells. These stem cells are not only more able to transform into other cells but are also much more likely to be accepted by the patient's body and immune system. This is essentially because they are seen as less of a threat than adult stem cells found in adult's bone marrow.

Currently one of the big adult stem cells cons and gives light to research being carried out on diseases other than those that a bone marrow transplant can help, and early indications show that an umbilical cord blood transplant could be the answer to heart failure and many other deadly diseases.

Overall the picture of umbilical cord stem cell research is a positive picture and with more donations of cord blood further research can be conducted and more uses for the stem cells derived from cord blood can be developed.

For more information on cord blood, please visit Cord Blood Banking.

About the Author

Hope is a freelance journalist who writes just about anything - from health topics , technology to online gaming.




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