Image is from www.cordblood.com
You’ve likely heard about stem cells, given the contentious debate regarding its usage. What cannot be denied, however, is that it is immensely useful in the treatment of more than 80 different serious diseases. In a time when general medicine still struggles to keep pace with the growing numbers of cancer patients and people with immunodeficiency disorders, cord blood has proven to be a viable alternative in clinical trials.
What, Exactly, Is Cord Blood
Cord blood refers to blood from the umbilical cord of a baby. These early cells have very special properties that are absent in adult cells: they can self-renew and self-repair. Given that a majority of diseases are actually affectations on the cellular level, this property of self-repair is hugely beneficial in the treatment of such ailments.
The current status of cord blood treatment is that they are largely relegated to research laboratories and clinical trials. The hope – which has been realized with varying degrees of success already – is that cord blood will prove essential in the development of therapies for some major illnesses.
What Is the Record of Application and Success So Far?
In the past 2.5 decades, the stem cells from cord blood have been used to treat 80+ diseases and medical conditions. Many of these issues have no other current treatment, and include such debilitating conditions such as cerebral palsy, leukemia and neuroblastoma. To date, the 30,000 – and counting – cord blood transplants have been approved to treat:
- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – which is a specific type of cancer that originates in the bloodstream and adversely affects the lymph nodes
- A cluster of disorders that target the metabolic system as well as the contribute to immunodeficiencies; such as Hunter syndrome, Osteopetrosis, Sickle Cell Anemia and Lesch Nyhan syndrome
- Neuroblastoma, Medulloblastoma and other malignant tumors such as Retinoblastoma
- Cancers that target the blood immune system – such as Leukemia, which is responsible for nearly 60,000 deaths per day as of 2017. Stem cells from cord blood have proved useful in treating all forms and stages of leukemia and related blood cancers
The Next Stage of Cord Blood Usage
The dozens of trials in process all around the world continue to produce very positive results; in fact, the approval of each new one is contingent on the success of the previous phases. In particular, many of the newer illnesses that the recuperative powers of stem cells from cord blood endow include:
- Crohn’s Disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Graft vs Host Disease
- Multiple types of encephalopathy
Trial after trial has shown that patients who undergo cord blood therapy, and combine this treatment with regularly scheduled health check-ups and good diets show a markedly improved quality of life.
The Method of Treatment
The method of treatment is simply the normal blood transfusion; except using cord blood. The self-repairing stem cells contained therein progress through the patient’s blood stream, and perform their healing touch, so to speak, on the tissue and cells with which they come into contact. The overall effect of this is to essentially create a new, well-functioning immune system capable of warding off immune-related illnesses the same way a healthy person’s system does.
The cord blood that you, for example, would use, will be taken from either your child or a sibling. The recommended person is actually up to the specific type of disease, and your physician’s analysis. For example, cancers are best treated (usually) using cord blood from your baby; whereas inherited genetic diseases employ a sibling’s cord blood.