Umbilical cord blood from newborn babies can be used to produce embryonic-like cells that can potentially treat diseases and debilitating conditions.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have been able to differentiate cord blood cells into a type of lung cell. These cells help to repair the airway in lungs after injury. This is a significant discovery because until now the use of brain stem cells was the only way to conduct viable research of this type. In the future, researchers might be able to examine cord blood from babies with lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis and develop better treatments. They will be able to work with umbilical cord blood cells to better understand lung development and to test new drugs.
Recent research indicates that mesenchymal stem cells obtained from full-term umbilical cord blood can potentially be used to repair tissue and develop bone and cartilage. As a result, patients can recover faster, thus preventing kidney complications arising from tissue damage. These findings bring new hope to those who suffer from acute kidney failure, a life threatening condition. Acute renal failure occurs when the kidneys are unable to get rid of waste and urine. Researchers in Italy treated mice with acute renal failure using cord blood mesenchymal stem cells and observed improved kidney functions. These preliminary findings show that cord blood stem cell research offers great potential in the treatment of acute kidney failure. However, more research is required to determine if humans would benefit from mesenchymal stem cells.
Lupus is a disease that affects more than 1.5 million Americans. It is an inflammatory disease that affects the skin, joints and kidneys. Lupus can be life threatening when it attacks major organs such as the kidneys. Stem cell transplant is used to treat patients with severe lupus. In a study of 50 patients who underwent stem cell transplant at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago, 50 percent were free from the disease after five years. The overall survival rate is 84%. Stem cell transplantation offers a ray of hope to lupus sufferers who have failed conventional treatments.
Cord blood stem cell research overcomes most of the problems associated with embryonic stem cell research. The latter comes under much scrutiny and debate. It is hard to obtain sufficient stem cells from embryos and the right tissue type for a patient. Cord blood stem cells can be produced and there is more likelihood of finding the right tissue type given a birth rate of 100 million babies a year worldwide. Cord blood stem cell breakthroughs will undoubtedly escalate further research to find cure for what had previously been incurable diseases or debilitating conditions.
Cord blood stem cell transplant is becoming increasingly important for treatment of life-threatening diseases and debilitating conditions.
Umbilical cord blood stem cells are less prone to rejection than bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells. Get daily updated resources on umbilical cord blood at
By Alvin Toh