Advantages of Cord Blood
Because cord blood stem cells are derived from a developed individual, they are classified as adult stem cells. However, they differ from other types of adult stem cells such as bone marrow in a number of ways:
- Perfect matching – When your child’s own stem cells are used for treatment (ie, autologous use), there is a natural perfect match for life which removes the risk of rejection or graft versus host disease.
- Potency – Cord blood stem cells, because they are younger, grow faster and for longer than stem cells from other adult sources. All cells in the body have an “internal clock” which limits how many times they can divide. Because these cells are collected at the very earliest stage of life they are capable of more cell divisions, and hence greater therapeutic impact.
- Damage – As we go through life our cells are continuously being exposed to damage from radiation, chemicals, viruses and the like. At the time of birth this exposure is at its lowest, due to protection by the mother and because the cells have had less time to acquire damage.
- Immune tolerance – One of the complications of receiving an allogeneic (ie other person’s) stem cell transplant is that the stem cells can attack the patient’s tissues (graft versus host disease). Because cord blood stem cells are collected prior to maturity of the immune system, the cells show more tolerance to foreign genetic material than stem cells derived from other adult sources. This significantly reduces the risk of graft versus host disease, particularly when the cord blood stem cells are used by a sibling or other family member.
Next topic: Family Cord Blood Banking