As hematopoietic stem cells regenerate blood cells and immune cells, cord blood is and can be used for the treatment of more than 80 ailments around the world
Umbilical cord banking or cord blood
banking, a procedure in which blood from the umbilical cord and
placenta is preserved for future use, is garnering increasing attention due to
its tremendous therapeutic powers and possibilities.
These powers are due to its content of stem cells,
primarily hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which can produce and, thereby,
replenish red blood cells (RBCs or erythrocytes), white blood cells (WBCs or
leukocytes), and platelets.
As cord blood can be infused into both the child
from whom it was collected (an autologous transplant) as well as other
individuals (an allogenic transplant), whether related or otherwise, the
decision to preserve your child’s cord blood, whether in a public or private
bank, should not be taken without an understanding of its uses and, thus, its
possible benefits to your child, your family, and even society as a whole.
As hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) regenerate blood
cells and immune cells, cord blood is and can be used for the treatment of more
than 80 ailments around the world including various blood disorders, cancers,
and immune disorders which may or may not be inherited.
Furthermore, numerous other uses are currently
being investigated in experimental trials and other research. Additional
details are provided below.
As aforementioned, cord blood is used to treat
blood disorders due to its ability to replenish blood cells. Among these are
various forms of anemia and genetic red blood cell (RBCs or erythrocytes) and
Anemias are conditions in which patients have a diminished supply of red
blood cells (RBCs or erythrocytes) in circulation. Among these, those that have
been treated with cord blood are Fanconi’s Anemia, Severe Aplastic Anemia, Pure
Red Cell Aplasia, Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria (PNH), and Congenital
Inherited or genetic red blood cells abnormalities are conditions in which patients’
erythrocytes (RBCs) are altered in appearance including shape, size, or color.
Among these, those that have been treated with cord blood are Beta Thalassemia,
Diamond-Blackfan Anemia (DBA), and Sickle Cell Anemia (or Sickle Cell Disease).
Inherited or genetic platelet abnormalities impair the blood’s ability to clot. Among
these, diseases that have been treated with cord blood include Congenital
Thrombocytopenia and Glanzmann Thrombasthenia (GT).
Furthermore, as WBCs or leukocytes are cells of the
human immune system, cord blood can be used as a treatment for numerous immune
disorders including various Severe Combined Immunodeficiencies (SCIDs),
neutropenias, phagocyte disorders, lymphoproliferative disorders, myoproliferative
disorders, and other immune system disorders.
Severe Combined Immunodeficiencies (SCIDs) are inherited conditions in which
individuals lack both T-cell and B-cell function. Among these, SCIDs that can
be treated by cord blood are X-linked SCID, SCID in which only T-cells are
absent, SCID in which both B- and T-cells are absent, Omenn Syndrome, and
Neutropenias are conditions in which individuals have decreased neutrophils (a
type of granular phagocytic immune cells important in bacterial immune
response) in circulation. Neutropenias that can be treated with cord blood are
Myelokathexis and Kostmann Syndrome.
Phagocyte disorders are conditions in which individuals have deficient or impaired
phagocytic cells (neutrophils and macrophages), which engulf (“eat”) and
eliminate various infectious agents. Among these, disorders that can be treated
with cord blood include Chronic Granulomatous Disease (CGD), Chediak-Higashi
Syndrome, Neutrophil Actin Deficiency, and Reticular Dysgenesis.
Lymphoproliferative disorders are conditions in which lymphocytes (primarily B-cells
and T-cells) do not proliferate properly. Among these, those can be treated
with cord blood are X-linked Lymphoproliferative Disease and Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome
Myoproliferative disorders or neoplasms are conditions in which blood
cells (RBCs, WBCs, and/or platelets) grow excessively in the bone marrow. Among
these, those that can be treated with cord blood include Polycythemia Vera,
Essential Thrombocytopenia, Acute Myelofibrosis, and Agnogenic Myeloid
Other immune system disorders which do not fully belong in the above
categories can also be treated with cord blood. These include DiGeorge or
Velocardiofacial Syndrome (DGS, VCFS, or 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome), Bare
Lymphocyte Syndrome (BLS), Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID, or Common
Variable Hypogammaglobulinemia), Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency, and
Cancer - Cord blood has often been used in the
treatment of various cancers, particularly leukemias, lymphomas, and some bone
marrow cancers. Other cancers which do not fall into these categories,
including Neuroblastoma, Retinoblastoma, Renal Cell Carcinoma, and Ewing
Sarcoma can also be treated with cord blood.
Leukemia, a group of cancers that involve abnormal/excessive white blood cell
(BWC or leukocyte) growth or proliferation, is the ailment for which cord blood
is most commonly used. Both acute and chronic leukemias can be treated with
cord blood. Among the acute leukemias, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL),
Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), Acute Biphenotypic Leukemia, and Acute
Undifferentiated Leukemia can be treated with cord blood.
Among the chronic leukemias, Chronic Lymphocytic
Leukemia (CLL), Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML), Juvenile Chronic
Myelogenous Leukemia (JCML), and Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia (JMML) can
all be treated with cord blood.
Lymphomas are cancers in which lymphocytes (B- and T-cells) grow
excessively. Astonishingly, the two main types of lymphomas: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, can both be treated with cord blood.
Bone Marrow Cancers which can be treated with cord blood include Plasma Cell Leukemia,
Multiple Myeloma, and Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia.
Cord blood stem cells can also be used to treat a
variety of inherited or genetic metabolic disorders, including numerous
Lysosomal Storage Diseases, Leukodystrophy Disorders, and others that do not
fall into these categories.
Lysosomal Storage Diseases involve defects in the ability of lysosomes
(which store important enzymes to eliminate waste) to store and/or degrade
biomolecules. Among these, diseases that can be treated by a cord blood
transplant include Tay - Sachs disease, Niemann-Pick Disease, Gaucher Disease,
Sandhoff Disease, and Wolman Disease as well as another class of diseases that
are collectively termed Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS).
Among others, diseases that fall into the umbrella
of MPS Storage Diseases include I-Cell Disease (or Mucolipidosis II),
Sanfilippo Syndrome (MPS-III), Morquio Syndrome (MPS-IV), and Maroteaux-Lamy
Leukodystrophy Disorders are disorders that detrimentally affect
various parts of the myelin sheath and, thereby, impair central nervous system
(CNS) function. Among these, those that can be treated with cord blood
transplants include Metachromatic Leukodystrophy, Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease,
Krabbe Disease (or Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy), and Adrenoleukodystrophy
(ALD), which includes Adrenomyeloneuropathy (AMN).
Other metabolic disorders that may be treated with cord blood are
Osteopetrosis and Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome.
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