Smart Cells collect and store stem cells found in umbilical cord blood and tissue so they can be used for treatment later.
As the body’s building blocks, the possibilities for using stem cells are endless. These potent cells are unique because they have the ability to repair, replace, and regenerate cells of almost any kind.
What do stem cells do?
Stem cells start off as unspecialised cells. Given the right chemical and genetic signals, they can develop into many different cell types such as blood, bone, tissue and organ cells.
An umbilical cord stem cell transplant can be used to replace diseased cells with healthy new cells.
Why store my baby’s umbilical cord stem cells?
You or a loved one may one day be affected by a disease or illness stem cells can treat. You can choose to store umbilical cord blood or tissue stem cells – or ideally, both, as each contains different stem cells that can be used to treat different conditions.
Storing your baby’s stem cells at birth is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to capture a valuable resource that could be used in the treatment of serious illness or disease in the future. Your baby’s stem cells can also potentially match and treat their siblings or parents. Storing these cells at birth effectively preserves them in their most healthy and potent state.
A rich source
In the past, the main source of stem cells came from bone marrow. Today however, we’ve found through intensive research that umbilical cord blood and tissue are a rich source of particularly potent stem cells such as hematopoietic stem cells.
The first successful stem cell transplant using umbilical cord blood stem cells was in 1988. The patient was a boy suffering from a serious blood disorder called Fanconi’s Anaemia, and the cord blood was obtained from his new-born sister. Many more successful transplants for a range of other conditions have been undertaken since.
The potential for stem cells to replace damaged cells and tissue is an exciting one. There are over 80 diseases for which stem cells transplants are considered a standard treatment option. Clinical trials are underway on many more, including on viruses such as COVID-19. Research into use of stem cells from umbilical cord tissue is looking particularly promising.
What are umbilical cord blood stem cells used for?
A cord blood stem cell transplant can replace diseased cells with healthy new cells and rebuild an individual’s blood and immune system. More recently, cord blood stem cells have been shown to form other tissues such as nerve and bone cells.
Cord blood stem cells have considerable potential in regenerative medicine. Research has shown these cells can develop into a range of cell types such as nerve, bone, skin, heart, and liver cells. They have also been shown to stimulate the body’s own repair systems.
These exciting developments have already translated into early clinical treatment of ischaemic heart disease and some neurological conditions. The future of regenerative medicine holds much promise, and cord blood is likely to play a major part in the advancement of our ability to treat human disease.
Read more about cord blood stem cells, the way we count them and why numbers are important.
Cord blood stem cells fight illness and disease
Storing stem cells from your baby’s umbilical cord opens up a range of treatment options for more than 80 conditions. Clinical trials are underway on many more, including COVID.
Umbilical cord blood and tissue compared: a current and future perspective
It is well recognised that stem cells from cord blood and cord tissue have remarkable therapeutic potential, however the types of cells differ in each product.
How are cord blood and cord tissue collected and stored?
Cord blood banking involves collecting and cryogenically freezing the blood from within the umbilical cord after birth. In cord tissue banking, small segments of the umbilical cord are collected, cryopreserved and stored.
Cord blood stem cells are well accepted in clinical use
Cord blood contains hematopoietic (blood-making) stem cells, and has been successfully used for over 25 years in the treatment of 80+ conditions including blood and bone marrow disorders such as leukaemias and anaemias, immune deficiencies and certain genetic disorders (1). Cord blood from a child itself, or from a sibling has the amazing potential to restore the bone marrow, blood and immune cell systems following chemotherapy. If sibling cord blood is used, then the donor cells may also have the ability to attack cancer cells remaining in a patient or replace a bone marrow deficiency with healthy cells after chemotherapy. The first cord blood transplant, which was undertaken in 1988, set the scene for the remarkable success story of this treatment option. An interview with Matthew Farrow who received this pioneering cord blood transplant can be read here (2).
Cord blood stem cells in regenerative medicine
In recent years, cord blood has also shown potential in the field of regenerative medicine and is undergoing clinical trials in the treatment of different conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy, diabetes and stroke. The benefit of cord blood in regenerative therapies has been attributed to the presence of non-hematopoietic cells called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) within the cord blood.
Regenerative power of cord tissue stem cells
Although cord blood contains MSCs, the Wharton’s jelly layer inside cord tissue has been shown to be exceptionally rich in these particular stem cells. This means that cord tissue banking for future regenerative cellular therapeutics is particularly relevant. MSCs are key players in this field as they help to heal or regenerate injured or diseased tissues. They have the ability to differentiate into certain different cell types. However, more importantly, they Cord blood/tissue comparison 11/2021 Dr Ann Smith Smart Cells can damp down harmful immune processes, they possess the anti-inflammatory potential and also produce a range of proteins that can promote healing of damaged tissues at the site of injury.
The possible uses of MSCs, such as those that are abundant in cord tissue, are showing encouraging results in clinical trials. They are being used to treat cardiac disease, neural and spinal cord injuries, skeletal injuries, skin wounds, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases to name a few (3, 4, 5).
Clinical trials using cord tissue
As of April 2020, there were 155 clinical trials listed worldwide using MSCs from cord tissue. The Polski Bank Komorek Macierzystych (PBKM) with which Smart Cells is affiliated, is a leading provider of MSCs from cord tissue. By March 2021, PBKM had supplied MSCs from cord tissue Wharton’s jelly for the treatment of 1687 patients on registered clinical trials. Very recently, the intravenous transplantation of MSCs sourced from cord tissue has been shown to be safe and effective in the treatment of critically ill patients with COVID-19 pneumonia (6).
Present and future
Although cord blood and tissue stem cells do share some benefits, each has many advantages of their own. We are living in an exciting era in modern medicine. Both cord blood and cord tissue are being used in a wide variety of established and cutting-edge treatments that hold promise for important and unprecedented developments in stem cell therapeutics (7, 8).
- https://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/news/interview-matt-farrow-recipientworlds-1st-cord-blood-transplant 3. https://stemcellres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13287-020-02011-z
High-Risk Solid Tumors
Hodgkin & Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Sickle Cell Disease
Traumatic Brain Injury
Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
HSV Encephalitis & NMDA Receptor
Chronic Granulomatous Disease
Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency
Severe Combined Immunodeficiency
Wiskott- Aldrich Syndrome
The future of cord tissue stem cell therapy is promising. Cord tissue stem cells can form a number of different tissue types and their therapeutic value for a wide range of diseases is growing.
Reports by leading scientists have also shown the Wharton’s Jelly of the umbilical cord (the gelatinous tissue in the cord) is a rich source of a different but equally important type of stem cell.
How can cord tissue stem cells help your child?
Cord tissue holds different cells to those found in umbilical cord blood – and many trials are underway into how these cells can treat other diseases and conditions such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders. By preserving both tissue and cord blood, your family will have the widest array of treatment options available.
Cord tissue has been shown by researchers to be particularly rich in mesenchymal (MSC) precursor cells that have the ability, under the right conditions, to differentiate into different cell types such as bone, cartilage, nerve, adipose, cardiac, smooth muscle, hepatic and skin cells and are therefore extremely promising in regenerative medicine.
They have also been shown to be capable of producing certain proteins that can help to repair damaged tissues and can reduce inflammation.
Current research is underway evaluating cord tissue stem cells for the treatment of diseases including:
Artificial valves and capillaries
Gene therapy for delivery of anti-tumour agents for cancer treatments
Treatment of chronic autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Crohn’s Disease
How do stem cells work?
Liz Bonnin investigates new stem-cell research that could change the face of organ transplant surgery. Watch this absorbing clip from series 5 of BBC 1 series Bang Goes the Theory.
Visit our YouTube channel to see more videos.
Our collection process in five easy steps
Order online or by calling 01895 424430.
In the UK, a trained and licensed phlebotomist from a dedicated service will perform the collection. Liaise with them, or your doctor if outside the UK, to ensure they attend the hospital at the time of birth.
Once your baby’s sample has been collected, call Smart Cells. They will send a courier to collect and transport the sample to the laboratory near Heathrow Airport.
Your baby’s sample is tested, processed, and cryogenically frozen at the laboratory.
Smart Cells will call you to confirm the successful storage of your baby’s sample. This sample will be stored safety for 25 years, and released if necessary for treatment.