Parents have a unique opportunity in their lives to decide to keep the stem cells of their newborn babies, as the last ones contained in the umbilical cord and which can not be collected in another phase of human life are the “key” for treating a multitude of diseases.
The cord blood unit consists of the umbilical cord blood and surrounding tissues. Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells from all organs of the body because it circulates in them since their creation and is therefore considered to be the most complete source of stem cell collection not only for correction of hematological conditions but also for use in regenerative medicine. Umbilical cord tissue contains a particular population of stem cells that can be used in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders.
Stem cells harvested at birth have a pronounced cell proliferation capacity, high injury repair capacity, are readily available and 100% histocompatibility is not required when administered to allogenic uses. This can help other family members
In particular, stem cells, the life span of which transcends human life, can be used by the child himself, his family and unknown compatible donors. The family can choose to have family custody or donation to a public bank or both. Its decision is based on the information it will receive from independent scientists, who are required to refer to the classic and ongoing applications that are made through clinical tests.
Also, the information concerns the cost of each choice. Parents are informed that they donate irreplaceably, on behalf of their child, and without any personal benefit, a precious biological material. It is a prerequisite for public and private banks to meet all the necessary standards to respond to their role in supporting the treatments for which stem cells are stored.
Today, 214 family and 139 public stem cell storage banks are operating worldwide in 55 countries. Family-run banks have accumulated a total of 4,100,000 private storage units and 731,000 public. The existence of two countries, Italy and France, where private banks are still not allowed, is the exception to the rule.
Private banks operate in Italy within the independent states, but stem cells are allowed to be sent abroad from the rest of the country, while in France it is forbidden. Despite the ban, the activity of public banks in France is very limited.
Placental stem cells are used in the child itself for the treatment of childhood cancer, usually found in the nervous system and in the bones, and for autoimmune hematological diseases. They are also used to treat certain forms of leukemia. There are currently 70 clinical trials using autologous umbilical cord blood and its derivatives, 44 clinical trials using allogeneic umbilical cord blood and 49 clinical trials using umbilical cord stem cells. Many of them also have published results.
The most frequent autologous use in the above clinical trials is the treatment of ischemic encephalopathy, autism, type I diabetes, coronary heart attacks, neuroblastoma, graft versus host disease, immunodeficiency gene therapy and lymphoma. Also, today one in three patients over the age of 60 could be helped if they had young stem cells for the treatment of degenerative diseases.