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Banking Blood in Cord Blood Banks
A cord blood bank is a facility or a center that collect, process, and store umbilical cord blood for futur use. Both the private cord blood bank and the public one, have developed since the mid to late 1990s in responce to the potential for cord blood transplants, in treating diseases of the blood and immune systems.
Public cord blood banks accept donations to be used for anyone in need. Unlike private cord blood banking, public cord blood banking is supported by the medical community. However, there are very strict regulations that public banks need to follow in order to enable the donated units to be added to a registry. Generally an expectant mother interested in donation should contact the cord blood bank before the 34th week of pregnancy.
Umbilical cord blood is one of the hematopoietic sources that are rich in adult stem cells. The umbilical cord which supports the fetus during pregnancy, is delivered with the baby and is typically discarded. Umbilical cord blood, like bone marrow and mobilized peripheral blood, is rich in potentially life-saving stem cells called hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs). When they are transplanted, HPCs are effective for the treatment of blood disorders (e.g., leukemia, selected metabolic disorders immunodeficiencies, and sickle cell anemia) and in recent years have been transplanted to more than 25,000 people in the United States alone. Increasingly, these transplants are performed with HPCs derived from cord blood.Compared to Embryonic Stem Cells (ESC), there are none of the ethical issues regarding the use of cord blood stem cells. Since the first successful umbilical cord blood transplants in children with Fanconi anemia, the collection of cord blood and cellular therapeutic use has grown rapidly.
Cord blood banks differ in their organization and governance as well as in the cord blood processing methods that they use. The absence of a standard, generally accepted search algorithm and differences in cord blood bank quality make it difficult for transplant physicians to know when it is most appropriate to use cord blood instead of an alternative sources of hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs). Federal and state laws and regulations govern the operation of cord blood banks, and many are accredited through a variety of mechanisms. Yet the rules are not standardized and a more consistently applied set of regulations would benefit both the cord blood bank and end users. Finally, existing cord blood collections lack sufficient ethnic and racial diversity to ensure adequate probability of finding HLA-matched units for some ethnic and racial groups, which is a particularly important barrier to the fundamental goal of unimpeded access to needed treatment. Thus, donor recruitment efforts should include greater attempts at outreach to populations whose HLA types are underrepresented in cord blood collections and the development of innovative approaches to donor recruitment.
The Therapeutic Promise of Stem Cell Transplantation
Stem cells are a primitive cell type found in all animals and are capable of both self-renewal and differentiation. Some stem cell types are more committed to a particular developmental fate than others. For example, they divide and mature into cells of a specific type or limited spectrum of types (e.g., heart, muscle, blood, or brain cells). In contrast, pluripotent stem cells are less committed and retain the potential to differentiate into most other types of cells. One example of a pluripotent stem cell is the embryonic stem cell, found in the blastocyst stage of the developing embryo. It is believed that stem cells form reservoirs of repair cells to replace cells and tissues that degenerate over the life span of the organism. It is this capacity for self-renewal and for differentiation into repair cells that offers great potential for regenerative medicine.
More About Banking Blood & Stem Cell Therapy
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The prospect of human stem cell research has emerged as a frontier scientific and bioethical issue...
What are Embryonic Stem Cells ?
Human embryonic stem cells exhibit the two major characteristics of stem cells...
Stem Cell Research
Scientific investigators are growing human stem cells in cultures in the laboratory...
Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Many embryonic stem cells currently available for research...
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