What is a cord blood bank?
Known as the "umbilical cord blood stem cells bank" in full, a cord blood bank is a specialized medical service institution which provides the extraction, processing and storage of umbiblical cord blood stem cells, while addressing the HLA inquiries should be from patients. It is also known as CORD BLOOD BANK or a LIFE BANK.
What are the rationales behind the increasing demand for an umbilical cord blood bank?
Clinical evidence from both China and overseas demonstrates that umbilical cord blood stem cell transplants have many advantages over the conventional bone marrow transplants and peripheral blood cell transplants. Active, if compared with the latter two, cord blood stem cell transplants are more cost effective with fewer side effects. In addition, higher concentration of stem cells can be found in the umbilical cord blood of the newborn babies.
HLA matching is required before carrying out any stem cell transplants, however, it is extremely difficult to find an exact match among non-relatives (the probability to find an exact match among non-relatives is very low, is close to one out of one out of 10,000 in a worst scenario). If the cord blood is saved, it will be available for use any time when needed.
In addition, if the umbilical cord blood of a newborn baby is not handled immediately after birth, it will be discarded.
A cord blood bank can store the umbilical blood stem cells that come naturally with human births. While fulfilling the needs of individual storage, it also attains a larger goal of serving the community and the public.
What diseases can be treated with umbilical cord blood?
Umbilical cord blood stem cells can be used to treat up to 75 life-threatening diseases related to blood disorders and immune system diseases, including leukemia (such as acute leukemia, chronic leukemia, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndrome, lymphoma etc); hemoglobinpathies (such as thalassemia); bone marrow failures (such as aplastic anemia); inborn metabolism disorders; inborn immunodeficiencies; autoimmune diseases and certain tumours (such as small-cell lung cancer, neuroblastoma, ovarian cancer etc).
Compared to bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cells, what are the advantages of umbilical cord blood stem cells?
1. Higher multiplication capabilities than bone marrow stem cells
2. Easier to collect, non-invasive procedures and has no negative effects whatsoever on mothers and their newborns
3. Abundance and is not affected by radiation, drugs, toxins, disease germs and other forms of environmental contamination
4. Kept at - 196 degrees in liquid nitrogen and ready for use at any time
5. Less rejection upon allergenic transplants and incidence of graft-vs-host diseases from transplants is lower than bone marrow transplants
How long can cord blood stem cells be stored?
Theoretically speaking, blood stem cells kept in liquid nitrogen can be stored permanently and remain viable when needed. Existing clinical data indicates that they are still viable after tens of years of cryogenic storage. Until now, cold blood storage has had a brief history of close to 20 years. With the application of the latest storage technologies such as computer controlled freezing procedures, and the use of interior and external cell protectants, cells damages are minimized during the cyro-preservation. Under the agreement, the bona-fide owners of the stem cells have the right to choose whether to continue the storage of their cord blood or terminate the service when they reach the age of 18.
Will umbilical cord blood collection bring any dangers to the mother or newborn?
No. The cord blood collection poses no harm whatsoever on mother and child. Cord blood collection is performed only by trained nurses or doctors after the umbilical cord is cut.
What are the future uses for the cord blood stem cells?
Presently, stem cell transplants can be used to treat more than 75 types of blood disorders, tumors and nervous system diseases etc. As medical research and genetic engineering advances, it is possible that umbilical cord blood will become a source for cellular and immune disorders treatments and a tool for gene therapies. An individual's own stem cells may have greater and better potential for clinical applications.
How are umbilical cord blood stem cells collected?
Umbilical cord blood is collected in the maternity wards by trained doctors and nurses. After a newborn is delivered, a 3-8 cm portion of umbilical cord from the baby's end is transected with two hemostats and cut. After this, the baby is carried away for further care. The site of the hemostat closer to the mother's end is sterilized and injected with an intravenous needle for cord blood collection. Contrary to conventional bone marrow extraction, cord blood collection requires no anesthesia to be carried out and involves no pain and side effects. As cord blood collection is carried out on the placenta upon separation of the umbilical cord from the mother's and infant's bodies, it poses no harm whatsoever upon mother and child.